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Trip Notes: Bowling Green, Pocahontas, Super Derby, Iroquois and more...
Saturday, September 7
Belmont - Bowling Green Handicap (race 8)
COMMENT: The tremendous year for the Ramseys just keeps on keepin’ on as Hyper continued his ascent with a second straight stakes win, his first greded stakes win. Coming off a smart win in the John’s Call at Saratoga July 31, the 6-year-old sat fifth early, just outside favored Boisterous, who held his spot along the hedge as Quick Casablanca set a modest pace. He remained wide and in the clear, made his run to the lead into the lane to take over from a tiring Quick Casablanca and gamely rebuffed a challenge from Finnegans Wake to prevail. He’s not ready for the big boys but this certainly shows he can do damage in the right spot. Finnegans Wake was last in the small field, gamely went after Hyper into the lane but just couldn’t get to him. Boisterous was quite unlucky. Hemmed in along the rail much of the way, he had to wait from room. It appeared to come at the quarter pole, but as he went for the opening it closed just as quickly, forcing Boisterous to steady hard. He got going again but it was too late. Quick Casablanca set a modest pace, tried to battle back when hooked into the lane, but then weakened in the final furlong.
Delaware - Kent (race 7)
COMMENT: Are You Kidding Me, good enough to get a shot at the Grade 1 Florida Derby in March, looks back on his game with the addition of blinkers as he proved an easy winner here. He was a sharp second in a Woodbine stakes July 27 (to Five Iron, who came back to win another stakes) and used his speed, going right out to set a slow early pace. He took some pressure from Hard Enough, but began to extend his margin going to the far turn and didn’t really have an anxious moment thereafter. He missed the course mark by .34 of a second. Michael With Us lagged back and came with a nice run, but was never a threat to the winner. Hard Enough chased the winner early, tried to make a run at him going into the far turn, but couldn’t keep pace and tired just enough to lose second in the final strides.
Churchill - Pocahontas (race 6)
COMMENT: Untapable, a smart debut winner here June 20 who missed the Grade 2 Adirondack at Saratoga with colic, came roaring back to form and established herself as a 2-year-old filly to be reckoned with. She was a quite rank and in a bit tight sitting just behind the leaders going into the backside, finally settled some going to the turn, found a seam, angled out for room and finished with a flourish to get up for the win. Trainer Steve Asmussen said the Grade 1 BC Juvenile Fillies Nov. 1 is very much on her radar. It’s worth noting she ran much quicker than the boys did about 20 minutes later in the Iroquois (1:44.38/1:45.65). Stonetastic, the favorite, pressed the pace, surged to a clear lead by midstretch looking very much like the winner, but couldn’t fend off the hard-charging Untapable. Rosalind bided her time and came with a nice run, though she wasn’t really a threat to the top two. She did finish well clear of the others. Elena Strikes set the pace under pressure from Milam and Stonetastic but weakened in the lane.
Churchill - Iroquois (race 7)
COMMENT: Cleburne, a $310,000 son of Dixie Union who won his only prior start, which came routing on turf at Ellis last month, posted the big 34-1 upset, while stablemate Smart Cover ran on to give trainer Dale Romans a 1-2 finish. Cleburne sat back while Laddie Boy set a brisk early pace, saved ground while steadily advancing, stayed on the rail into the lane, angled out and finished well to just get up. Smart Cover, who like the winner posted his maiden win routing on turf at Ellis, was just behind the winner pretty much from start to finish. He sat back while staying in the clear, rallied strongly while wide and just missed. Both appear candidates to go on to the Grade 1 BC Juvenile at Santa Anita Nov. 2. Tapiture, the second choice after running second in his lone start at Saratoga Aug. 17 to eventual Grade 1 Hopeful winner Strong Mandate, stalked the pace, moved to the lead in midstretch, stayed on well but couldn’t quite fend off the top two. Ride on Curlin, the favorite off a big maiden win at Ellis July 13 (91 Beyer), actually ran quite well in defeat. He stalked the pace while losing ground, loomed a big threat into the lane but couldn't sustain his bid. However, he was the only runner on or near the pace who hung around for the finish. It’s just his third start and his first in almost two months, so it’s far too early to give up on him.
Churchill - Ack Ack (race 9)
COMMENT: Pants on Fire made it two straight graded stakes wins with a super effort here, showing that while he may not be up to challenging the best he can certainly do damage in the right spots. Coming off a win in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup, he stalked in fourth while Right to Vote first and then Taptowne set a brisk pace. He moved closer turning for home, stayed in the clear, powered past Taptowne in the final furlong and drew clear. Trainer Kelly Breen mentioned the horse may now await the Grade 1 BC Dirt Mile at Santa Anita Nov. 2. Taptowne stalked Right to Vote early, took over from that foe on the turn, held the lead to midstretch, but couldn’t fend off the winner. Good Morning Diva was just behind Pants on Fire early, didn’t accelerate as quickly, but got going decently late while saving ground.
Louisiana Downs - Super Derby (race 11)
COMMENT: On paper Departing dominated this and that’s the way it worked out on the track, too, as the 1-5 favorite never appeared in any danger of losing. He settled in fourth early as Ruler of Love set a slow pace. He began to advance on the far turn without being asked to join the leaders, and had no trouble rolling past Ruler of Love in the lane and drawing off to win while well in hand. Trainer Al Stall said he might next go in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby Sept. 29. Ruler of Love set the pace, tried to battle back when the winner came to him turning for home, was no match for that foe but stayed on well to be clearly second best. Cameo Appearance stalked in third and continued on evenly to hold that spot while no real threat.
Arlington - Arlington-Washington Futurity (race 7)
COMMENT: Solitary Ranger had finished second in his only two starts and hadn’t seen any action since those outings, which came at Keeneland in April, but that didn’t matter as the colt dominated the proceedings. He sat second, dogging pacesetter Lotsa Mischief from the start, took over from that tiring rival on the far turn, opened up and won with ease. The way he handles Polytrack may mean a shot at the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October, and trainer Wayne Catalano also said the Grade 1 BC Juvenile at Santa Anita Nov. 2 was a distinct possibility. Whyruawesome was a bit slow into stride, came with an energetic run on the far turn to look a threat, but couldn’t counter the winner’s strong stretch run while much the best of the rest. Cee ‘n O stalked the pace, got shuffled back on the turn, but got going again, plugging along for third even if he was no threat. High Roll, the tepid 3-1 favorite, stalked in fourth, loomed a threat turning for home but flattened out.
Arlington - Arlington-Washington Lassie (race 9)
COMMENT: She’s Offlee Good backed up her smart debut win here Aug. 1 with another nice performance to make her a perfect 2 for 2 and notch her first graded stakes win. She showed versatility, too. While her debut win came wire to wire, this time was bided her time early midpack as Riches Sweetheart set a brisk pace, steadily advanced while saving ground, swung out for the stretch run and powered past her foes. Her time was a little quicker than the boys about 90 minutes earlier, too (1:37.98/1:38.17). Sweetsoutherndame, second in a stakes at Woodbine last month, was near the winner throughout, didn’t accelerate as quickly or as strongly, but ran on well for second. Maria Maria, favored off an easy maiden winner here July 19, lagged back early and finished with good energy. Tamazula stalked the pace, loomed a big threat into the lane, but couldn’t sustain her bid.
Please may I ask what is probably a dumb question about Beyers: Two races, both on dirt, both 6 furlongs. One winner receives a 105 Beyer with a time of 1:09.6. The other winner receives a 99 Beyer with a time of 1:07.9. That's nearly 2 full seconds better than the former. With all things being equal, WTH?