08/20/2012 1:33PM

Trip Notes: Arlington Million, Alabama Stakes, Longacres Mile, and more

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saratoga
Sword Dancer (race 9)

Point of Entry established himself one of America’s top turf distance horses along with Acclamation and Little Mike with a powerful victory. Coming off a smashing win in the Grade 1 Man o’ War, he notched his 4th straight victory here with ease, stalking the modest pace of Turbo Compressor while saving ground and remaining inside on the far turn while looking for room. He found a seam, surged through, angled out and kicked away to win for fun. Al Khali lagged back, made a threatening run into the lane, continued on well but was no threat to the winner while clearly best of the others. Brilliant Speed sat midpack, kept to his task decently but wasn’t really ever a threat. Turbo Compressor, coming off a big win in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth July 7, set a modest pace but gave way badly once headed.

Saratoga
Alabama (race 10)

Questing overpowered her rivals in notching her 3rd straight win and her 2nd straight Grade 1 (took the CCA Oaks here last month). The daughter of Hard Spun bounced right out to the lead, set a brisk pace, then drew clear in the lane to win in a romp, even if she was racing greenly the final two furlongs. She’s now the 3-year-old filly division leader. In Lingerie sat 4th, made a run at the winner on the far turn, proved no match for that rival but stayed on well to finish far clear of the others. Via Villagio sat back and passed mainly tired rivals. Zo Impressive stalked the pace but weakened when it matter. She had to be vanned off after reportedly suffering a condylar fracture of her right fore. Grace Hall, the favorite, chased the winner from the start but weakened badly. Post-race exam showed mucus in her lungs, which may accounted for her severe fade.

Monmouth Park
Philip Iselin (race 10)

San Pablo backed up his impressive Birdstone win at Saratoga Aug. 2 with another smart performance, and showed his versatility. Usually right on or near the pace, this time he sat 4th while Small Town Talk set the pace pressured by Toby’s Corner and Ponzi Scheme. He bided his time, moved closer on the far turn, stayed in the clear into the lane, wore down the leaders and drew off. He may not be up for the big boys but showed here he can do damage in the right spots. Toby’s Corner pressed the pace after stumbling at the start, moved up to take the lead in midstretch but was immediately tackled by the winner and couldn’t keep pace. Small Town Talk set the pace under pressure and stayed on gamely, even if no threat to the winner in the final furlong.

Arlington Park
Secretariat (race 8)

Bayyir, a Group 2 winner in France and now a winner of 4 of 5 overall, got the day off to a fine start for the Euros as he overcame some trouble to win. He broke very slowly but bided his time behind a solid pace. He steadily advanced, came through between horses turning for home, swung out into the lane, took advantage late and drew clear. Finnegans Wake, who couldn’t handle Silver Max in a couple prior meetings, beat that guy here but it wasn’t enough. He sat last early while saving ground, edged closer going down the backside and finished well between horses for 2nd. Summer Front pressed pacesetting favorite Silver Max, got the better of that foe into the lane, looked as though he might win when clear on the lead at the furlong pole but couldn’t sustain his run. Silver Max, previously a winner of 6 straight on turf, set the pace, was under pressure and weakened. Euro Daddy Long Legs sat 4th, made a strong early run to grab the lead into the lane but then faltered badly to end up last.

Arlington Park
Beverly D. (race 10)

I’m a Dreamer, a proven classy runner in Europe, made it 2 for 2 for the Euros with a game win. She bided her time, came home strongly to grab the lead from Joviality in the final half-furlong and just had enough to get to the line before the hard-charging Marketing Mix. The latter again showed her worth as she sat midpack while saving ground, had to wait for room turning for home, swung out wide for clear sailing in midstretch and blasted home to just miss in a big try. Joviality stalked the pace, moved up to challenge in midstretch but couldn’t quite finish with the top 2. Kapitale made it a 1-3-4 Euro finish as she sat back and finished well. Mystical Star was well back early and never made a run in a rare dull outing. Aruna, the favorite, got away very poorly, tried to move up going to the far turn and had to check severely again. She wasn’t going to win but all that trouble eliminated her. 

Arlington Park
Arlington Million (race 11)

Little Mike struck a blow for the Americans and hard-trying sorts as the tough 5-year-old went right to the lead, set a solid pace, blew the race open with a strong run to open up into the lane and really didn’t have a nervous moment thereafter even if they did close the gap. His name goes up with Point of Entry and Acclamation as top American distance turfer. He’s now 6 for his last 8. Question is, do they point for the BC Mile or the 12 furlong BC Turf? They may see if he wants more ground by trying the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch, where he could run into the East’s other top turf stayer, Point of Entry. Afsare was quite fractious before the start, even running into and knocking down part of the inner rail. But none of that mattered as the Euro sat back and finished with good energy. Rahystrada likewise sat well back and put in a strong wide rally to get a share of 3rd. Colombian stalked the pace, tried to go after the winner in the lane but couldn’t keep up, and managed to hold on for a share of 3rd. Treasure Beach, last year’s Grade 1 Secretariat winner, was well back after a troubled start, finished with good energy but was left with far too much to do. Even so, he’s obviously not the same horse he was last year. Boisterous was fractious and unsettled before the start and didn’t run a step.

Del Mar
Del Mar Oaks (race 8)

Confirmation wasn’t really required, but Lady of Shamrock gave it anyway, firmly establishing herself queen among the 3-year-old filly turf set out West. As usual, it was her amazing late kick that did the job. She was content lag back from the start, sitting last while Eden’s Moon and Best Present Ever made a solid pace, began to advance on the far turn, swung very wide into the lane to ensure clear sailing and blasted home to go past them all. Stormy Lucy, the longest-priced horse in the race, sat well back also, came with a strong run into the lane, was just in front of the winner in midstretch but couldn’t quite finish with that rival while well clear of the others. Open Water sat midpack, made a smart run to grab the lead by midstretch but couldn’t go with the top 2. Eden’s Moon and Best Present Ever volleyed on the lead, setting solid splits, and both paid the price, fading to 5th and 9th, respectively.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saratoga
Lake Placid (race 8)

Trip handicappers were lined up to play Stephanie’s Kitten after a much-troubled run in the Grade 2 Lake George July 25 saw her finish 4th behind Centre Court and Better Lucky. Their assessment was right. This time the hole opened at the required moment and the filly took advantage. The daughter of grass champ Kitten’s Joy stalked in 3rd, remained just behind the winners into the lane, was still there in midstretch but found a seam late, surged through to get the win. Centre Court was 2nd, chasing pacesetter Mendolina, went after that foe into the lane, looked like the winner late but couldn’t fend off Stephanie’s Kitten. She did nothing wrong; she simply got beat. This validates her as among the top 3 3-year-old filly turfers (Stephanie’s Kitten, Lady of Shamrock are the other 2). Somali Lemonade sat back and finished smartly. Better Lucky, 2nd in the Lake George, stalked in 4th but never mustered a run.

Emerald Downs
Longacres Mile (race 8)

Race complexion changed some when one of the favorites, Gladding, spiked a fever Friday after shipping in from SoCal and was scratched. Taylor Said continued on a tear, notching his 6th straight win and doing so from a brutally tough post (No. 10). He dogged local hotshot and pacesetter Winning Machine, moved up to challenge that foe into the lane and got the better of that rival after a tough duel. Winning Machine ran splendidly, setting a hot pace while under pressure from Taylor Said from the start. He battled gamely all the way to the line and just missed. Awesome Gem, the gallant old warrior and defending champ, lagged back and put in a solid late run – it just wasn’t enough.

Del Mar
Rancho Bernardo Handicap (race 6)

Winding Way stamped herself a real comer, notching her 3rd big win in as many starts – and this was truly amazing. Taking a huge step up in class the daughter of Malibu Moon had her head turned when the gates opened, didn’t break with the field and hopped in the air to give the rest a big head start. All looked seemingly lost but she gathered herself, steadily advanced, came wide into the lane and powered home, shifting in a bit (there was an inquiry) but continuing her strong run past her foes. This was downright Zenyatta-ish. Sugarinthemorning bounced out to a clear lead, looked long gone when she opened up a commanding lead into the lane but couldn’t withstand the winner’s big charge. Rumor sat back, came with a nice run through the lane, had to steady when in tight when the winner went past near the 16th pole and couldn’t finish with that foe while nearly catching the runner-up.