11/05/2012 2:22PM

Trip Notes: Breeders' Cup Classic, Ladies' Classic, Mile, and more

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint (race 4)

Race took a hit when top fillies Beholder and Kauai Katie opted for the Juvenile Fillies and then second choice on the morning line Super Ninety Nine was scratched race morning (cast in stall, suffered scrapes) and South Floyd, the second choice at the time, was scratched while warming up (off left fore). It all worked out for maiden Hightail, who posted the upset. He was entered pretty much as an afterthought (the BC contacted trainer D. Wayne Lukas to possibly enter as this race was coming up light). The colt showed some speed while hugging the rail, remained inside just behind heavy favorite Merit Man, moved up to challenge while riding the fence as Merit Man came off it only just, poked his head in front, and just got the desperate nod from a re-rallying Merit Man. Lukas makes more history as he has the most Breeders’ Cup wins (19). He did have to survive an inquiry. There was some bumping between the two, but the stewards let the result stand. Merit Man popped the gate to grab the lead, but was tackled immediately. He kept a narrow advantage through modest splits, was asked for run turning for home, lost the lead to Hightail and was coming back at that rival late, but lost the heartbreaker. Sweet Shirley Man sat a couple lengths off the lead and finished well.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Marathon (race 5)

Worth Repeating was scratched race morning (minor suspensory problem left fore). Calidoscopio made history on two fronts – he became the oldest winner of a Breeders’ Cup race (9 years old) and the first South American-based winner of a Breeders’ Cup race. The Argentine was last early while Jaycito set a decent pace for the distance, still seemed to have a lot to do going down the backstretch the second time, began to pick it up going to the far turn, continued his long, sustained wide run and swept past a tiring Atigun, and drew away to win nicely. Quite a training job, too, as he hadn’t run since June 23. Grassy, who had done all his work prior on grass, sat midpack, was game with a smart run into the lane and was no match for the winner, but plugged along well for second. Atigun, third in the Grade 1 Belmont, stalked the pace, took the lead going to the far turn, looked on his way to victory turning for home as he was traveling well, but didn’t appear to stay the distance. Jaycito set the pace, but weakened. Fame and Glory, the multiple Group 1 stakes winner from Europe, came under a ride with seven furlongs left and had nothing. He was one of five eased in this race.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (race 6)

Sustained was scratched race morning (off in right fore). Never a shock when a Euro runs big in a grass race, and French raider Flotilla did just that. A very nice fourth when much troubled in a French Group 1 last time, she bided her time midpack, was content to stay there until the field straightened away as her rider waited patiently, saw a hole develop, surged through, and drew off to win smartly. Watsdachances stalked the pace, made a smart run at pacesetter Tara From the Cape into the lane, was no match for the winner, but kept on nicely. She could be big in the country’s top 3-year-old filly grass races next year. Summer of Fun lagged back and finished with good energy. Tara From the Cape shot out of the gate, set a solid pace, battled back gamely when challenged into the lane, and stayed on well. Sky Lantern, the favorite off some strong Irish form (Group 1 stakes winner), sat midpack, but was always behind a wall of horses and never had any room to run. Spring Venture, well backed off three big wins in Canada, sat back, made a run to try and reach contention while very wide on the far turn and into the lane, and then ran out of gas.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (race 7)

Beholder couldn’t handle Executiveprivilege in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, but used her speed, showed heart, and got her revenge here. She broke alertly and went right to the lead, took pressure from Kauai Katie, started to creep away from that rival on the far turn, opened up a lead, looked in trouble when Executiveprivilege came at her, but just wouldn’t relent and stayed on gamely for the win. Executiveprivilege broke alertly and got a dream trip stalking in third. She saved ground, moved closer while staying on the rail, had to wait a bit for Kauai Katie to give her room, came through nicely, and loomed ominously but just couldn’t get to the winner while shifting out in the final furlong. It’s her first loss in six starts, and it may cost her an Eclipse Award. This was strictly a two-horse race in the lane. Dreaming of Julia seemed a bit sluggish early as she was well back on the first turn. She advanced nicely, though, down the backstretch, getting onto Executiveprivilege’s hip. She tried to make a run at the lead turning for home and continued on decently, though she was no threat to the top two in the lane. Tough to tell if she’s just a bit overrated or if that hard-fought Grade 1 Frizette win took some of the run out of her. Kauai Katie dogged the winner from the start, started to lose ground to that foe turning for home, and finished evenly. She may prefer a shorter trip.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (race 8)

Zagora skipped this last year as her connections planned an assault on this year’s edition, and the plan worked. The mare bided her time in fourth while saving ground, just behind pacesetter Star Billing. She edged closer going to the far turn, started to move off the rail looking for room, found a seam into the lane, came with her run, battled gamely with Marketing Mix, and got the better of that foe late for the win. This ends her career with a crescendo. Marketing Mix did everything right. She was a bit eager early, but finally settled into second, pressing Star Billing from the start. She bided her time to the top of the lane, pounced on Star Billing, moved to the lead, was immediately tackled by Zagora, and despite battling hard, just couldn’t quite keep up late. Nice to see the American turf distaff division represented so well by the 1-2 runners. Of course, they caught a break as favored Euro raider The Fugue had a tough trip. She sat midpack, not far off the lead, moved closer on the run while behind horses, was still behind horses into the lane and looking for room, finally found a lane along rail, dropped down to make a run. but by then it was too late. Ridasiyna, the other big Euro, lagged back, swung wide on the turn, was still last into the lane, and finished strongly. She was simply left with far too much to do. I’m a Dreamer sat back, moved out looking for room to make a run on the turn, angled back in, but had to steady hard when blocked by traffic to lose all chance, so like The Fugue she was quite unlucky.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (race 9)

COMMENT: It wasn’t done the way most envisioned, but certainly no surprise to see Royal Delta successfully defend her title with a dazzling performance. Unlike most of her races where she’s stalked or sat back, she ‘caught a flyer,’ according to rider Mike Smith, at the start and went right to the lead. When main speed threat Questing failed to fire (broke last, gave way, was pulled up, and vanned off) Royal Delta set a strong pace. She basically ran them off their feet, setting fast splits while seemingly well within herself. She started to edge away turning for home, for a moment looked in trouble when first My Miss Aurelia got to her hip and then Include Me Out came up alongside, but had another gear and edged away. Smith makes history (now all-time leading rider in BC wins), and she may make more as reports are she’s to come back in 2013, point for the Dubai World Cup in March and maybe the Grade 1 BC Classic at Santa Anita next fall. My Miss Aurelia lost nothing in defeat. The 3-year-old filly stalked the pace while saving ground, moved up menacingly inside turning for home, made a run at the winner, but just couldn’t get to her. While Include Me Out passed My Miss Aurelia into the lane, My Miss Aurelia kept on gamely to rerally and take back second from that rival. Include Me Out sat back, came with a strong run into the lane to look very dangerous, but couldn’t sustain it. Grace Hall sat back and passed tired rivals. Awesome Feather stalked the pace, but chasing those fast fractions took its toll as she faded.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (race 4)

George Vancouver got the day off to a good start for the powerful Ballydoyle crew as the two-time Group 1 stakes-placed Euro showed his class. He was always traveling well as he stalked the pace while saving ground on the rail, stayed just behind the leaders to the top of the lane, moved off the fence, found a seam, shot through to grab the lead, and drew away. Trainer Chad Brown continued his strong Breeders’ Cup, finishing second and third with Noble Tune and Balance the Books and showing that the Americans have some comers in the grass game. Brown’s pair sat back fairly close to one another. Noble Tune moved earlier, loomed a threat into the lane, but couldn’t finish with the winner. Balance the Books lagged back, moved up coming off the far turn, had to steady when in traffic, came out for a clear run, and finished full of energy in a real nice try. Dundonnell sat back, didn’t take the first turn too well as he lugged out, re-established his position to sit a few lengths off the lead, came wide in the lane with a strong move, but couldn’t sustain it.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (race 5)

Groupie Doll was by the far the heaviest favorite of the Breeders’ Cup – with good reason – and she completely validated that with yet another monster performance. She bided her time midpack while staying out in the clear, moved up easily while wide on the turn, had no trouble taking command, and drew off to be just as advertised. She’s now won five straight since adding blinkers, three of them Grade 1’s, and anything less than being unanimously named champion female sprinter would be a joke. Her run looked better as the day went on, too, as she was outside while clearly the inside was the place to be. Dust and Diamonds stalked Teddy’s Promise, made a smart run to grab the lead into the lane, briefly battled back when the winner came to her, but was no match while clear of the others. Switch was last early and came with a nice sustained run, though she was never on the winner’s radar. Musical Romance, last year’s winner, moved up nicely inside into the far turn, but just as quickly backed out of it. Turbulent Descent, once among the division elite, stalked but gave way. She just isn’t the filly she was last year.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (race 6)

Tapizar’s heart has always been a bit of a question – his best races had come when he wasn’t involved in a fight. However, he showed he’s growing up and has more courage. He was the only part of the speed brigade that survived what seemed like modest splits. In fact, he flourished. He dueled early with Emcee with others hounding him as the field was well-bunched from the start. He took over from that tiring rival, saw the other speed fall away, opened up into the lane, and had no trouble keeping Rail Trip at bay. This also confirms his love for this track – he’s now 3 for 5 here. Rail Trip, bided his time while saving ground, had to wait for room into the lane, found a clear path between horses and came through, but the winner had already shot away. Delegation pressed the pace, but couldn’t keep up with Tapizar in the lane. John Scott was last early, but not that far away at any point. He swung wide into the lane, made some headway, but was never really a threat. Shackleford bobbled at the start to get away a bit slowly, but recovered and seemed in a great spot pressing the pace while in the clear. He moved up some on the far turn, but had nothing once the field straightened away. It was likely the last race for the 2011 Grade 1 Preakness winner who had a fine career. Fed Biz pressed the pace, looked threatening on the turn, but gave way.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (race 7)

Mizdirection makes some history as the filly – who thinks she owns this hillside turf course as she’s now 3 for 3 on it – comes off the longest layoff to win a BC race (last ran May 27). She bided her time early, sitting well back. She steadily advanced as the field swung around the bend and over the dirt crossing, stayed out wide and in the clear, and powered home to get up in the final yards. Unbridled’s Note, another with proven form on this course (won a Grade 2 here Sept. 28), sat back as well though was a bit closer, came with a strong run into the lane to grab the lead, and looked like the winner until the filly came storming past. Still a real good try. Reneesgotzip, the other filly in the race, and a 3-year-old at that, stalked the pace while Euro raider Starspangledbanner ran off to a clear lead, moved up to challenge after the dirt crossing, and while unable to keep pace with the top two, kept to her task well for third. Great Mills, likewise, stalked, loomed a threat after the dirt crossing, but couldn’t sustain his run. Starspangledbanner shot out of the gate, opened up a clear lead with sizzling splits (21.11 and 42.39), was still clear after the dirt crossing, but had nothing left for the final furlong. California Flag, the gallant 8-year-old who once owned the hillside course, didn’t show his old speed and was never a factor.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (race 8)

Shanghai Bobby stayed undefeated and surely earned the 2-year-old Eclipse with a game win – but it wasn’t pretty. He pressed Title Contender through sharp splits, took over from that tiring rival on the turn, looked exhausted coming into the lane, and appeared beaten when He’s Had Enough charged up and edged past. But Shanghai Bobby dug deep, rerallied, and gamely prevailed. It may not have been so much a case of Shanghai Bobby being exhausted as it was him shutting down and having to get going again. He’s Had Enough, with the same owner/trainer/jockey as Grade 1 Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, stalked while hugging the rail, had nowhere to go coming into the lane as he was blocked, finally found a seam, moved through and looked like the winner, but couldn’t counter Shanghai Bobby’s rerally. This race provides more fodder for those who believe there was a distinct inside bias. Capo Bastone sat well back, came with a smart run into the lane, had to maneuver through traffic, and flattened out a bit. He reportedly bled badly, which may account for that. Power Broker got shoved out wide on the first turn, was still wide down the backside as he moved closer, remained wide on the far turn, tried to make a bid in the lane while still wide, and just couldn’t get involved. Not a bad run at all considering, especially if you do believe there was an inside bias.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Turf (race 9)

He seems to jump up when least expected. Little Mike popped up and won the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, won the Grade 1 Arlington Million this summer, and did it again here with the 17-1 upset. Usually a front-runner, he had to sit third early as he was outrun by Turbo Compressor and Optimizer, who pushed the former into fast splits. He bided his time, moved past those tiring rivals into the lane, looked beaten when Japanese raider Trailblazer roared up alongside, but then burst clear and had enough of a buffer to get to the wire before hard-charging Point of Entry. Little Mike tied the course mark and set a Breeders’ Cup record. He made his case for champion grass horse – except Wise Dan may foil those hopes. Point of Entry saved ground, had to check early on the hillside, but then bided his time, moved closer on the turn while saving ground, stayed on the rail, came with a strong run, swung to the outside of Little Mike, and was closing but just ran out of ground. St Nicholas Abbey, the defending champ, sat midpack, had to go wide to make his threatening run into the lane, but couldn’t get there. The second and third finishers were both running strong in the lane – they just ran into a horse who ran the race of his life. Trailblazer, who threw a fit in the saddling area and was led out to the track first, surged into contention into the lane to look very dangerous, but couldn’t sustain it. Dullahan was never involved. Next year, his campaign should probably focus solely on Polytrack, on which he’s unbeaten and has posted all his victories.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (race 10)

Speed and 3-year-olds dominated as Trinniberg and the The Lumber Guy were on the pace the entire way and stayed there as rivals fell back and never came. Trinniberg dueled with Sum of the Parts, another 3-year-old, got the better of him into the lane, battled with The Lumber Guy, and edged away late. The Lumber Guy pressed the pace from the start, loomed a big threat into the lane, but couldn’t get to a stubborn Trinniberg. Smiling Tiger, who hadn’t been as sharp this year, found some of his old spark as he sat back off the pace and made a nice run through the lane, though this was strictly a two-horse race in the final furlong. Sum of the Parts was quickest, but was hounded from the start and tired late. This race bolstered the notion of an inside bias. Coil had to steady a few strides out of the gate to lose position and was left with far too much to do. Amazombie appeared in a great spot, came under a ride turning for home, but never produced his usual strong run. The veteran may be over the top.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Mile (race 11)

Wise Dan made his bid for Horse of the Year honors with yet another superb performance. Given a perfect ride by John Velazquez, Wise Dan got a dream trip sitting third while Southern California speedball Obviously inexplicably set a slow pace (he’d been brilliant before by blasting early and running his foes off their feet). Wise Dan waited behind Obviously to the top of the lane, moved off the rail, advanced eagerly to challenge Obviously, and then bounded away to win impressively while setting a course record. To show you how good and versatile he is, he was favored here, would have been favored in the Sprint, the Dirt Mile, and, possibly, the Classic. Animal Kingdom, making his first start since February and off an injury, ran maybe the best race of his life. He sat back, was behind horses into the lane, stayed inside, had to wait for room, and then blasted through late once a lane materialized – only, it was too late. Obviously set a modest pace under some pressure from Suggestive Boy, was no match for the winner, and only lost 2nd in the final strides. Excelebration, the top Euro, had a great trip midpack, looked dangerous into the lane, and had every chance but just wasn’t good enough. A good turf Breeders’ Cup for the Americans as Wise Dan, Little Mike, and Zagora strike a blow for the home team.

Santa Anita
Breeders’ Cup Classic (race 12)

A dazzling renewal as Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man put on quite a shot a la Blame/Zenyatta. Fort Larned broke alertly, but was immediately hounded by Mucho Macho Man, Alpha, and To Honor and Serve. He set solid splits, started to edge away from the field on the far turn, but then had to withstand another charge from the resolute Mucho Macho Man, and the two battled to the wire. Fort Larned would not relent, gamely prevailing in a splendid performance. Mucho Macho Man lost nothing in defeat. He ran huge, but just couldn’t get past the winner. Mucho Macho Man was much the best of the rest as this was strictly a two-horse race from the quarter pole to the wire. Flat Out lagged back, came with a steady run, but was never a threat. Ditto Ron the Greek and Richard’s Kid, who likewise simply left themselves with too much to do. Game On Dude broke a tad slow and ended up in a pocket behind the pacesetters. He managed to get out of there and seemed in a good spot stalking from the outside. He was asked for run on the far turn, briefly looked threatening, but suddenly his needle was “E.” Game On Dude is best when he’s able to be right on the pace.