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Trip Notes: Alabama, Arlington Million, and more
Saturday, Aug. 17
Saratoga - Sword Dancer (race 9)
Big Blue Kitten made it 4 wins in his last 5 starts, avenging the lone loss with a strong finish to notch his second straight Grade 1 win. He sat last early and was still far back going to the backstretch, though he saved ground as his stablemate Stormy Lord set a solid pace. Big Blue Kitten began to pick it up while saving ground, was asked for run going to the far turn, accelerated quickly to reach contention while still inside and behind horses, moved off the inside while still behind horses coming into the lane, found a seam, surged through and powered home. He was actually eased up in the final yards. The Grade 1 Joe Hirsch at Belmont Sept. 28 figures next and should all go well there, then the Grade 1 BC Turf at Santa Anita Nov. 2. Twilight Eclipse sat midpack early, came with a smart run into the lane to grab the lead, was no match for the winner in the final furlong but stayed on well to be a clear second. Nutello stalked the pace while rank early, had to steady turning for home which cost him some ground, got going again to loom a threat by midstretch but couldn’t sustain his bid. Boisterous, the favorite, stalked the pace while wide, seemed in a good spot but never mustered a run and in fact faltered in the lane.
Saratoga - Alabama (race 10)
There really wasn’t much doubt as to who was the country’s ranking 3-year-old filly, but if there were Princess of Sylmar put that all to rest with another dominating performance and it’s not too early to say she likely sewed up the Eclipse Award as she tacks this onto her resume after big wins in the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks. She bided her time in fourth behind pacesetter Carnival Court, came with a strong wide run turning for home to sweep past her rivals and draw off to win with authority. It’s possible her year is over – she won’t target the BC Distaff as she is not BC nominated. Fiftyshadesofhay stalked the pace, tried to move with the winner into the lane, was no match for that foe but was comfortably best of the rest. Carnival Court set the pace under some pressure from Montana Native but had no answer when the winner went storming past on the far turn and was no real threat to Fiftyshadesofhay for the place.
Arlington - Secretariat (race 8)
Admiral Kitten, who just missed when second beaten a head in the Grade 3 American Derby here, broke a string of four straight seconds as the son of turf champ Kitten’s Joy notched his first Grade 1 win with a powerful finish. He sat well back early, as is his custom, commenced a sharp move on the turn while staying wide and in the clear and sustained it to the line to reel in Stormy Len and draw away late. Stormy Len confirmed the strength of the American Derby as he was a nose behind Admiral Kitten that day and here he stalked the early pace, took command while able to set dawdling splits, opened up into the lane looking very much the winner, but was unable to fend off Admiral Kitten. Jack Milton, a strong third in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, was slow into stride, moved early to reach a stalking position and finished decently though he was no threat to the top two. Rydilluc pressed early pacesetter Golden Jason and then pressed Stormy Len who took over pacesetting duties but then fell apart.
Arlington - Beverly D. (race 9)
The Euros came and conquered as Dank and Gifted Girl ran 1-2, easily beating back the Americans. Dank, coming off a big Group 2 win in Ireland last month, showed she’s the real deal as she bided her time early in sixth while La Tia set a modest pace. She moved closer on the far turn, swung wide into the lane and powered away from her rivals for the impressive win. If she keeps racing in the U.S. she would appear to have the division at her mercy if this run was any indication. Gifted Girl, coming off an English stakes win last month, likewise sat back and came with a decent run to be second best, though she never really scared the winner. Interestingly, the two Euros who added Lasix (Dank, Gifted Girl) ran 1-2, while the Euro who didn’t (Duntle) was no factor in the lane. Ausus, easy winner of the Grade 3 Modesty (the traditional local prep for this) here last month, confirmed that form as she bided her time and finished with good energy, though the top two were too much for her. Marketing Mix, the favorite, stalked the pace while seemingly in a great spot. She moved up to challenge for the lead turning for home but couldn’t sustain her bid. She was a bit eager early and maybe that took some of the starch out of her.
Arlington - Arlington Million (race 10)
It took an assist from the stewards but Real Solution made it quite a day for the owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who also won the Grade 1 Secretariat and Grade 1 Sword Dancer, as the son of turf champ Kitten’s Joy got the win after original winner The Apache was DQ’d and placed second. Real Solution bided his time, came with a powerful run into the lane between horses, passed The Apache in midstretch but had that foe re-rally to pass him late, though The Apache lugged out a couple paths (his rider said the horse shied from the large projection TV in the infield), bumping Real Solution a couple times. The Apache, who showed top class when second in back-to-back Grade 1’s in Dubai in March, stalked the pace while staying wide and in the clear, moved closer going down the backside, surged to the lead into the lane, looked beaten when Real Solution came storming up alongside, but came back to win while drifting out. Side Glance, another raider from overseas, stalked the pace in fourth early and kept to his task well, though he couldn’t go with the top two in the lane. Little Mike, the defending champ, went to the lead as expected while on the rail, was overtaken by Mull of Killough going down the backside, battled back to regain the lead going to the far turn but then bid a steady retreat. Grandeur, considered a top threat off a big Group 2 win in England, was well back early, very wide into the lane, and could make only minimal headway. Indy Point, the favorite off a smashing U.S. debut win at Del Mar, was never really in the race.
Del Mar - Del Mar Oaks (race 8)
There was an abundance of other speed lined up against Discreet Marq here but the filly showed her versatility and professionalism by stalking the pace and finishing well to get the win. An East Coast invader who usually goes right out to make the running, she instead sat just off the pace of Need You Now. She bided her time there, loomed ominously on the outside turning for home, shot to the lead, quickly opened up and had no trouble keeping Wishing Gate at bay in the final half-furlong. Wishing Gate, coming off a smart win in the Grade 2 San Clemente here, bided her time and finished well along the inside, but couldn’t get to the winner. Emotional Kitten lagged back, as is her custom, and finished with good energy. She just wasn’t good enough. Kitten’s Dumplings, the favorite, was far back early and finished decently. Need You Now set a modest pace under pressure from Unusual Way and weakened late.
Sunday, Aug. 18
Saratoga - Lake Placid (race 8)
Nellie Cashman upset the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks at 19-1 last time out and appeared to pull a similar stunt here when she finished first under the line at 20-1, but some antics in the lane got her DQ’d to third. Caroline Thomas was the 11-1 beneficiary as after sitting last early, biding her time at the back of the pack she pitched very wide into the lane, came with a strong rally, got pushed out some when the Nellie Cashman drifted out and just missed. The Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont Sept. 14 is her next target. Watsdachances bided her time early, came with a smart run into the lane, but got carried out by a drifting Nellie Cashman, which hurt her rally. Nellie Cashman stalked in third, doggedly went after tiring leader Tapicat in the lane, had no trouble going past that rival but drifted out. The Garden City figures on the docket for those two as well. Tapicat, the favorite, went right out to the lead, set a modest pace, was still clear by midstretch but then weakened.
Monmouth - Iselin (race 10)
Last Gunfighter may not be ready for the best of the handicap ranks but he showed again here he can surely do damage in the right spot. He bided his time early, sitting last in the small field as San Pablo, Raging Daoust and Margano volleyed on the lead through modest splits. He pitched out into the lane, put in a solid sustained rally and was just able to outfinish a very stubborn San Pablo. San Pablo dueled early with a couple other rivals, put them away into the lane, battled back gamely when hooked by the eventual winner but just got outfinished by a head. He was much the best of the rest. Jaguar Paw stalked in fourth and made a mild run through the lane to easily get third, though he was no threat to the top two.
Emerald - Longacres Mile (race 8)
Despite the presence of some scary shippers, other speed and an outside draw, Herbie D likely clinched horse of the meet honors with a super front-running win. He jumped out of the gate right to the lead, took some pressure from Winning Machine while setting fast splits, dispatched that foe into the lane and gamely kept Stryker Phd and Golden Itiz at bay. He’s now won 8 of his last 9. Stryker Phd helped hold up the locals’ end as well, as after running second to Herbie D in the Mt. Rainier here July 21 he filled that slot again, this time breaking slowly, sitting well back early before putting in a strong rally for second. Golden Itiz, who shipped in from Southern California after being claimed for $62,500 off a win at Hollywood July 7, looks like a promising claim even if he didn’t get the win here. He was slow into stride, got shuffled back to last going down the backstretch, but found his gear and like Stryker Phd put in a sustained rally. They just couldn’t get to the winner. Jebrica, eighth in this last year, sat well back, came with a threatening run into the lane, but couldn’t sustain it. Politicallycorrect sat back early and never made a move. Winning Machine, a sharp second in this last year, dogged the winner early but gave way in the lane. At age 7 he appears to have lost a step or two.
Del Mar - Rancho Bernardo Handicap (race 4)
Reneesgotzip, coming off a monster return win here July 18, her first start of the year, had no trouble dispatching with this tough group and set a track record for 6 ½ furlongs. She bounced right out to a clear lead, set a solid pace while clear, and once straightened away into the lane blew the race wide open. She likely established herself as the early favorite for the Grade 1 BC F&M Sprint at Santa Anita Nov. 1, although trainer Peter Miller said she could instead target the BC Sprint or Turf Sprint. Winding Way chased in third, doggedly kept after the winner, and was clearly second best. Sweet Marini was second from the start, tried to keep up, but weakened in the lane.
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Note that Gifted Girl's medication was announced at Arlington as a program change: she was NOT running on Lasix, but she still ran second in the Beverly D. The official chart has her running on Lasix. So someone got that wrong. The Apache also did not run with Lasix and finished first. Lawrence: Duntle did not run at Meydan. But The Apache and Side Glance did, and still finished 1-3 in the Million. One can't extrapolate anything about Lasix and Meydan from The Beverly D and The Million. I'm surprised nothing was said about the very bad trip/ride that Hunter's Light got in the stretch of the Million. He looked to be full of run but was steadied ,and then a few strides later nearly fell when clipping heels.
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You mentioned that Dank and Gifted Girl added Lasix, but you didn't mention that Duntle raced at Meydan in the Spring. None of the horses that raced at Meydan faired well.