Updated on 09/16/2011 8:25AM

Now we know

Imperial Gesture goes wire to wire in the Beldame at Belmont.

NEW YORK - Whether committed to memory, scribbled in a program, or keyed into a computer, trip notes are collected by every horseplayer. Here are some of mine, broken down by track, compiled over a huge Breeders' Cup prep weekend.

Belmont Park

Storm Flag Flying is the goods. You have to love the way she was more aggressive early in Saturday's Frizette than she had been in the Matron. Even though she likes to come from off the pace, she's also good enough to be in the game early, meaning she should never be vulnerable to a slow, uncontested pace. The only thing that you would like to see from her is slightly faster final times. But, considering that Storm Flag Flying gives the strong impression that she has barely scratched the surface of her talent, that's nitpicking.

Azeri, meet the East Coast filly who will keep you honest early in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Her name is Imperial Gesture, and she scored her second straight front-running Grade 1 win in Saturday's Beldame. That doesn't mean I'm picking Imperial Gesture in the Distaff, because she did tire noticeably in the final furlong of the Beldame, which she completed in a pokey 13.59. But Azeri is going to have to work much harder at Arlington than she has been working.

As expected, Summer Colony was looking for another turn in the one-turn Beldame. But if you are a fan of Summer Colony, you couldn't have been encouraged with the way Mandy's Gold, who continues to surprise as a stretch-out sprinter, flew by her late to be second.

Those who ran in Saturday's Champagne still have to convince me. Toccet, who came up from Maryland and won his third straight, is improving. But, he ran down Icecoldbeeratreds, whose distance limitations were obvious late. And, now you know why trainer Stanley Hough was non-committal about the Breeders' Cup prospects of Champagne favorite Pretty Wild, who was so flat Saturday that it looks like he would do best with a long rest.


Xtra Heat got her victory over males in Saturday's Phoenix, and an impressive one it was. And remind me to think twice the next time I consider using jockey Calvin Borel on a horse breaking from the inside. Why he conceded his rail position on Day Trader in a speed duel with Xtra Heat and Touch Tone to angle four wide on the far turn at a track like Keeneland is a mystery.

It was surprising how hard ridden Sky Mesa was in Saturday's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity, especially since he never seemed in danger of losing at any point of the race. Yet, he was set down going into the far turn, was put to the whip at the three-eighths pole, and was under steady handling all the way to the wire. His connections spoke afterward about how Sky Mesa lacked concentration, and maybe that's why he was so abruptly handled. Still, this seemed like an excessively hard effort coming just three weeks before the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

As if we needed any more convincing, Landseer provided additional evidence as to how formidable the Europeans will be in each of the Breeders' Cup turf races by winning Sunday's Shadwell Keeneland Turf Mile. Landseer is a decided second stringer in his own barn behind superstar Rock of Gibraltar, yet he beat America's top-ranked turf horse, Beat Hollow, back to third. Beat Hollow, meanwhile, is in Breeders' Cup nowhere land, because he doesn't want the 1 1/2 miles of the Turf, and he's not a miler.

What a gutsy but beautiful ride by Edgar Prado on Take Charge Lady in Sunday's Overbrook Spinster. Prado bet the ranch that You would come off the rail turning for home. She did, and that enabled Take Charge Lady to slip through and win the Spinster in one of the most impressive performances of the weekend. My price on Take Charge Lady in the Distaff is now gone.

Santa Anita

Kafwain may have gotten the money in Saturday's Norfolk, but even a casual race watcher knows that the one you would want coming out of this race is Bull Market. Bull Market set a strong pace under severe pressure, and yet somehow came back after Kafwain collared him in midstretch, only to lose a dirty photo.

Maybe Banks Hill prefers to race along the rail. After all, that's where she ran when she blew away the field in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Maybe keeping Banks Hill on the rail was the instruction to jockey Corey Nakatani before Saturday's Yellow Ribbon. That would be Nakatani's only excuse, because the whole world knew on the far turn that Banks Hill had to get out, or get stopped. Nakatani failed to get her out, and she got stopped cold, effectively costing her all chance.

But Golden Apples ran yet another terrific race winning the Yellow Ribbon. In the process, she dispelled any doubt about her ability at 1 1/4 miles, and so did runner up Voodoo Dancer.

I think I may have found my Breeders' Cup Classic horse, and he's going to need help from the Breeders' Cup Selection Committee to start if the Classic is oversubscribed, as expected. He is Pleasantly Perfect, emphatic winner of Sunday's Goodwood Handicap. Pleasantly Perfect is improving dramatically from race to race, he will love the Classic's 1 1/4-mile distance, he has the right closing style in a Classic that is shaping up to be top-heavy with early speed, and he is very much a "now" horse in a race where a lot of the bigger names look to be going the wrong way.