08/22/2011 4:42PM

Trip Notes: Alabama, Del Mar Oaks, Longacres Mile stakes recaps


Saturday, Aug. 20

Saratoga -- Alabama Stakes
Royal Delta said "not so fast” to those who wanted to give It’s Tricky the 3-year-old filly title as she avenged her loss to that rival in smart fashion. Winner of the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan and 3rd to It's Tricky in the Grade 1 CCA Oaks after a setback and layoff, Royal Delta benefitted from that outing and the added ground. She stalked the pace in 3rd, moved up on her own power into the lane, took over in midstretch and drew away to win with ease. It’s Tricky did nothing wrong though she may have been exposed a bit at 10 furlongs. She ran 2nd early pressing pacesetter Plum Pretty, moved up to challenge into the lane with Royal Delta but was no match for the winner while 2nd best. Pinch Pie, the longest shots in the race, lagged back and ran on steadily. Plum Pretty, the Ky. Oaks winner, set the pace but gave way. She’s shipped back and forth across the country a couple times now and maybe that took its toll. St. John’s River, 2nd in the Ky. Oaks, lagged back but never mustered a run. Inglorious, who beat males at this trip in the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, was last early and never made a move. She’s just a different filly on Woodbine’s Polytrack (5 for 5) as opposed to dirt, which she faced here (0 for 3).

Monmouth -- Philip H. Iselin
Where's Sterling returned after nearly 3 months on the bench and notched his first stakes win in professional manner. The son of Northern Afleet stalked midpack, stayed in the clear on the outside, came with a smart run into the lane and kept to his task to wear down a stubborn Southern Ridge, taking over late and edging away. This doesn't mean he’s ready for the big boys but obviously he can so some damage in the right spot. Southern Ridge dogged pacesetter Ponzi Scheme from the start, got the better of that rival into the lane to take the lead, battled back when hooked by the winner but just couldn't keep pace while ending up much the best of the rest. Ponzi Scheme set the pace but was under constant pressure and couldn’t keep up with the top 2 in the lane. Pleasant Prince, the favorite, was last early and never made a move.

Delaware -- Endine
Eve Giselle continued her good form, making it 6 wins in 9 starts with a game tally here. Coming off 3 straight bullet works at her home track (she’s now 3 for 3 here) she stalked the early pace in 3rd, moved up to take a narrow lead going to the far turn, battled long and hard with Cosmic Girl and then with Sassy City but had enough to just edge away in the final 70 yards. Sassy City was just behind the winner throughout, moved up to challenge that rival into the lane, battled gamely but just couldn’t quite keep while much the best of the rest. Ms Vanenzza sat last early, made some headway in the lane but was never really a factor in what was a 2-horse race. Ha Ha Tonka pressed the pace, tried to make a run into the lane but couldn't keep up.

Del Mar -- Del Mar Oaks
Summer Soiree backed up her huge turf debut win with another strong performance here, stamping herself a legitimate 3-surface threat and maybe best on turf and thus a real threat to the best 3-year-old grass fillies like Winter Memories and Hungry Island. She stalked pacesetter Dynamo, made a decisive strong move to open up a huge lead into the lane and even bigger lead by midstretch, and then gamely held as the closers came to her. Star Billing stalked midpack, finished resolutely but just ran out of ground before getting to the winner. Same with Nereid who stalked in 3rd and finished well before just running out of ground. Cambina lagged back and finished strongly. Bizzy Caroline was last early and unable to make a dent.

Sunday, Aug. 21

Saratoga -- Lake Placid
Hungry Island made it four in a row, notching her first graded stakes win – though she certainly benefitted when heavy favorite Winter Memories had a dreadful trip. Hungry Island sat last early, swung wide into the lane for clear sailing and powered home to win going away. Off this she would certainly merit a shot in the Grade 1 Garden City BC at Belmont Sept. 18. Kathmanblu, freshened after a busy winter/spring that saw her form tail off a bit, came back sharply. She chased pacesetter Bellamy Star, took over from that tiring rival into the lane and looked the winner until Hungry Island went storming past. Dynamic Holiday sat midpack and finished steadily and was the main culprit to Winter Memories, keeping her boxed in. Winter Memories, generally regarded the division leader, was hemmed in and bottled up throughout. She tried to find room a couple times but it never materialized and only in the final half-furlong but by then it was too late. She might not have outkicked the impressive winner but didn’t have a chance to do so. She no longer has a stranglehold on the division with Hungry Island and Summer Soiree now deserving mention.

Emerald Downs -- Longacres Mile
The marvelous veteran Awesome Gem, despite being stuck with the worst of the draw on the far outside (No. 12), added this race to his gaudy resume with a strong rally. The 8-year-old ran 2nd in this race in 2009 and here got his customary trip, biding his time early. He came with a strong run into the lane, powered past his rivals, quickly opened up by the eighth pole and didn't really have anything to worry about thereafter. He may not quite be a Grade 1 horse at this stage of the game but this run proves there's still plenty of gas in the tank and he can do some serious damage in the right spot. Noosa Beach, the defending champ and top local horse, did as expected. He used his speed to flee a poor post (No. 11). He set a solid pace, tried to battle back when the winner came to him into the lane and while no match for that foe stayed on well to be a clear 2nd. He really lost nothing in defeat here – he simply got beat by a horse who was once top-class and who ran big on this day. Posse Power stalked in 3rd and kept to his task well in a good try, finishing well clear of the rest. No one else really mattered in this field, though Winning Machine, who gave Noosa Beach fits in the Mt. Rainier here last month, was midpack early but then lost ground to the leaders and never made a run.

Del Mar -- Rancho Bernardo Handicap
Tanda benefited from a number of scratches to get back on the winning track. She was 3rd to Irish Gypsy in Hollywood’s Grade 2 A Gleam last month but got her revenge on that foe here. Making her first start for new trainer Mike Mitchell she stalked the pace in 3rd as the favorite, went after the leaders turning for home, seized the lead, opened up and really didn’t have a nervous moment in the lane. She seems back on track and another forward move in whatever comes next could launch her into the G1 BC F&M Sprint. She’s Cheeky was last early in the small field, was content to remain there for some time but came with a smart run between horses to finish well and grab 2nd, even if she never really was on the winner’s radar. Irish Gypsy, returned to the West Coast after a dull run at Saratoga, dogged pacesetter Irish Gypsy through brisk splits but like that rival paid the price as she didn't have the necessary oomph in the lane.