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Lady Joanne headed for Spinster start
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The top three finishers from Saturday's Alabama Stakes will likely head their separate ways before likely meeting up again in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27.
Lady Joanne, who survived a two-pronged challenge from Lear's Princess and Octave as well as a stewards' inquiry into the stretch run, will make her next start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster Stakes on Oct. 7 at Keeneland, trainer Carl Nafzger said.
The stewards looked into the end of the race, when Lady Joanne appeared to tighten things up on third-place finisher Octave in deep stretch while also bumping with Lear's Princess right at the wire.
Nafzger said the Alabama victory was a realization of a goal he had set out to accomplish in the spring after Lady Joanne missed too much time to be ready for the Kentucky Oaks.
"It doesn't happen very often, but it certainly makes you feel good when it does," Nafzger said.
As Nafzger usually does, he sent Lady Joanne to the track on Sunday morning for a one-mile jog.
"When she went on the track to jog that mile that morning she was a little muscle-sore," Nafzger said. "By the time she got back around, she was shaking her head like 'Let's go!' Like me or you, if we overwork it takes you five minutes longer to warm up,"
For the second straight Grade 1 race, Lear's Princess was a bridesmaid. Though she got bumped right at the wire of the race, the stewards saw no need for a disqualification. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Lear's Princess - who was also second in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks - could run next in either the Grade 1 Gazelle at Belmont on Sept. 15 or the Grade 2, $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 22.
"I thought she ran great," McLaughlin said. "I was very happy with her race. Obviously it was 50-50 regarding a possible disqualification. Naturally, we'd have liked it to have gone a different way. It would have been nice to have been kissed into the win, but we'd have taken it."
McLaughlin said he may put blinkers on Lear's Princess for her next start.
"She seems to get there, and the riders feel there is more in her, but it's tough to make a change after she's been beaten a neck in two Grade 1's," McLaughlin said.
Despite getting squeezed in deep stretch while finishing third, Octave came out of her race in good order, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. Pletcher said that Octave could go to either the Cotillion or the Grade 1, $600,000 Beldame on Sept. 30.
After a few days to think about it, Pletcher said he wasn't too upset about Lady Joanne not being disqualified.
"The one thing I will say, at this meet the stewards have been very consistent," said Pletcher, who is on an 0-for-24 skid at this meet since The Leopard won the second race on Aug. 11. "They haven't taken anybody down for anything. Had we been second, I would have been much more upset about it."
On Monday, the stewards made their initial disqualification of the meet from first place when they ruled that Victory for Sierra, with Eibar Coa up, interfered with Seasonal a few jumps before the wire.
Rags to Riches in serious work
Pletcher's top 3-year-old filly, Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches, worked five furlongs in 1:00.50 Sunday morning. She worked in company with Magna Graduate, who was timed in 1:00.69.
Rags to Riches, with Angel Cordero up, started a length behind Magna Graduate and the two finished on even terms, though Rags to Riches galloped out much better. Rags to Riches remains on target for the Grade 1 Ruffian at Belmont on Sept. 8.
"I think after [Sunday's] work she's back in top form," Pletcher said. "Her hair coat is starting to slick down and look better than it did a couple of weeks ago. By the time Sept. 8 rolls around she's going to be ready to race."
Pletcher said Magna Graduate could run next in the Massachusetts Handicap Sept. 22.
Curlin gets back to work
Preakness winner Curlin worked five furlongs in 1:03.64 on Monday over the Oklahoma training track, his first work since finishing third in the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 5. Curlin is preparing for a start in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.
Under Carmen Rosas, Curlin went in fractions of 13.27, 25.64, and 37.94 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:17.28.
"Curlin worked beautiful this morning," said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. "That was his first work since the Haskell. He's in great shape."
At first, the connections of Curlin deemed the Haskell a disappointing performance by Curlin. Upon further review, they now believe it was a pretty good first race back off three grueling Triple Crown efforts.
Belmont to get purse increase in fall
The same purse increase the New York Racing Association officials announced for the last three weeks of the Belmont spring meet will be in place for the entire fall meet that begins on Sept. 7, it was announced on Monday.
Daily average purses are projected to rise 12 percent, or $66,864, from $557,114 last fall to $623,968. Open allowance race purses will go up by $10,000, open maiden special weight races increase by $9,000, and purses for open claimers and maiden claimers go up by $4,000.
Statebred allowance races increase $6,000 and statebred maidens go up by $5,000.
Desormeaux wins four on day
Jockey Kent Desormeaux capped a four-win afternoon Monday by guiding Karakorum Starlet to a front-running one-length victory over longshot Scatkey in the $81,650 Union Avenue Stakes for New York-bred filly and mare sprinters.
Desormeaux has won 11 of the last 37 races run at this meet, and now has a meet-best 31 wins, two more than Cornelio Velasquez.
Karakorum Starlet held off a mild bid from Scatkey to record the victory. Karakorum Starlet, a daughter of Skip Away trained by Jeff Odintz, covered he six furlongs in 1:10.95.
Magnolia Jackson, the morning-line favorite, scratched because her left front foot is still tender, trainer Gary Contessa said.
Discreet Cat galloping along
Discreet Cat didn't quite make the Saratoga work tab on Monday morning. But he's getting close.
Discreet Cat has not started since finishing last in the Dubai World Cup. The winner of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in 2006, Discreet Cat has been galloping here steadily since the beginning of the meet and on Monday breezed an easy quarter-mile before galloping out three furlongs over the main track.
"He went a quarter-mile in 26 and galloped out in 40," said Rick Mettee, an assistant trainer for the colt's owner, Godolphin. "He looked great. He'll probably have two works before we leave here to return to Belmont, and the Vosburgh is out there, although everything would have to go perfect for him to make the race."
The Grade 1 Vosburgh will be run at Belmont Park on Sept. 30.
High Finance goes five furlongs
High Finance worked five furlongs in 47.03 seconds over the main track on Monday, the second-fastest of 52 recorded works at the distance on the morning's tab.
High Finance has not started since winning the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park by 2 3/4 lengths on July 4.
"He worked great," said trainer Rick Violette."Right now we're right on target for the Forego."
The Grade 1 Forego will be run at seven furlongs here on Sept. 1.
Nine set for Ballston Spa
Grade 1 winners My Typhoon and Wait a While will head a field of nine fillies and mares in Thursday's $200,000 Ballston Spa.
My Typhoon became the first horse to qualify for the 2007 Breeders' Cup after winning the Grade 1 Diana Handicap by three-quarters of a lengths here earlier in the meet. She will carry high weight of 122 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile and Ballston Spa, one more than Wait a While, who captured the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon and American Oaks at 3 but has won just once in three starts this season.
Other top contenders in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa include Vacare, Meribel and Mauralakana.
Sugar Shake heads Personal Ensign
Six fillies and mares were entered to go 1 1/4 miles over the main track in Friday's $400,000 Personal Ensign.
Sugar Shake, a Grade 1 winner earlier in the year, will break from post 1 and carry high weight of 122 pounds under the allowance conditions of the race. The remainder of the field, from the inside out, comprises Unbridled Belle, Lila Paige, Teammate, Miss Shop and Indian Vale.
Teammate outfinished Sugar Shake by a half-length to upset the Grade 2 Shuveee Handicap on May 19.
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch