07/22/2013 11:57AM

Trip Notes: CCA Oaks, Eddie Read, Delaware Handicap, and more

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saratoga
Shuvee (race 9)

After this big win, you can make the case that Authenticity is the second-best older distaffer in the lane behind Royal Delta. The 6-year-old mare beat a strong bunch here in smart fashion. She showed the speed to hound pacesetter Sea Island from the start, though the fractions were pedestrian. She moved up on her own into the lane to take command and stayed nicely to keep Flashy American at bay in the final furlong. This may earn her a shot at the big gal, Royal Delta, in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign here Aug. 25. Flashy American stalked in fourth and got shuffled back some turning for home but got going again to finish well and actually kept the winner honest to the line. Sea Island moved right out to the front, set very slow splits while being hounded by Authenticity, was no match for that rival into the lane, and couldn’t go with Flashy American in the final furlong but was well clear of the others. Eblouissante, the half-sister to Horse of the Year Zenyatta, making her much-anticipated first start since Jan. 17, had a disastrous time. She threw a fit in the gate, tossing her rider, and after being backed out and checked, was put back in the gate, then broke slowly and never picked up a foot. She came back with a chipped tooth and some cuts on her legs. This race was a complete throw-out.

Saratoga
Coaching Club American Oaks (race 10)

There’s no doubt now as to which Todd Pletcher 3-year-old filly is the best. While many tub-thumped for Dreaming of Julia and then made Unlimited Budget the favorite here, Princess of Sylmar left no doubt with a dominating performance. She was slow into stride, as is her want, then began a strong, wide run on the turn that swept her past her rivals and launched her far clear as much the best. She ran faster than the elder Authenticity did 20 minutes earlier over the same 1 1/8 miles (1:51.07/1:52.33). There’s no doubt now that she goes to the Grade 1 Alabama here Aug. 17 as the favorite. My Happy Face went right to the lead, set a modest pace, tried to battle back when hooked by the winner, and was no match but kept to her task well to keep second. Marathon Lady stalked the pace and kept on evenly. Unlimited Budget, the favorite, had a tough time. She banged against the gate at the start to get away last. After that, she bided her time early and made a mild move down the backside while saving ground but then bid a hasty retreat to end up last in a disappointing effort. Pletcher said that trip wasn’t the game plan, but she’s also had a hard season, and this may be a sign that she needs a break.

Delaware
Delaware Handicap (race 9)

The rest of the distaff division got some bad news, as rumors of Royal Delta’s demise were obviously quite premature, and the two-time champion toyed with her foes here while successfully defending her title. Last year, she had to work hard to edge Tiz Miz Sue by a neck. She had no such worries this year, as she went right out to a clear lead and just galloped off as if in her own private race, winning in a romp. Last year after this, she next went in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga and ran second, beaten a half-length, and trainer Bill Mott said that race Aug. 25 likely would be her target again this year. Maybe Shuvee winner Authenticity can give her a tussle. No one in here could. She’s All In stalked early and got shuffled back to last but came on again to get second, though she never was on the winner’s radar. And Why Not chased the winner and kept to her task decently but couldn’t outfinish She’s All In for second, while Summer Applause chased the winner early but gave way badly in a disappointing run.

Arlington
Arlington Oaks (race 7)

My Option continued her fine work, as she made it 4 wins in 6 starts (with 2 seconds). After finishing a game second to Bold Kitten at 3-5 in a stakes for statebreds here June 1, she was freshened but came back firing in this tougher spot. She bided her time early behind a very slow pace, came with a wide run into the lane, and moved up to grab the lead by midstretch as if she might win clearly but then had to fight to keep the hard-charging Frivolous at bay. This might not mean she’s ready for the division’s deepest water, but she’s now handled open foes, won on turf, dirt, and synthetic, as well as sprinting and routing, so they have all sorts of options with this nice gal. Frivolous, coming off a turf maiden win at Churchill Downs on June 8 but having already handled Polytrack at Keeneland in April, handled the big class hike well, as she raced with the winner from the start and didn’t accelerate as quickly into the lane but got going in the final furlong to give the winner a big scare. She’s certainly trending the right way. Sky Girl, favored off two straight wins at Churchill Downs and freshened, dueled early with Gold Edge through slow splits and tried to battle back when hooked into the lane but was no match for the top two while clearly the best of the others. Bold Kitten, who beat My Option in a stakes here June 1, was last from the start, still was last turning for home, and made minimal headway. My Seaneen was disappointing. After facing some of the division’s best, she stalked in third but gave way to finish last. That could be a sign that she needs a vacation.

Del Mar
Eddie Read (race 8)

Apparently, you only had to get Jeranimo away from the two best turf milers in the game (Wise Dan, Obviously) and get a hot, contested pace for him to find success, as the tough 7-year-old notched his second Grade 1 win with a big late kick. After chasing Wise Dan in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 4 and Obviously in the Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 29, he caught a break here, meeting no such rival. As is his custom, he was far back early, sitting last while Fed Biz and Slim Shadey set a hot pace. He bided his time, moved closer turning for home, and blasted through the lane to grab the lead and win going away. Back in the winter, trainer Mike Pender said the Grade 1 Arlington Million on Aug. 17 could be a target. That might still be in the works, though Pender said he could take another swing at the Grade 1 Pacific Classic on synthetic here Aug. 25 (in which he was eighth last year). Vagabond Shoes, a Group 3 winner in France in 2012, seems to be getting acclimated to the United States, as he posted a second straight strong outing. He likewise sat back, came with a nice run into the lane, and looked as though he might win until Jeranimo came storming past. Fly Lexis Fly, the Grade 1 Peruvian Derby winner in 2011 but yet to make a dent in six prior U.S. starts, showed improvement while trying turf for the first time as he stalked in third and made a nice run to grab the lead in midstretch but couldn’t hold off the top two. Slim Shadey dueled with Fed Biz but gave way in the lane. The former Grade 1 winner apparently is not the horse he once was. Sofast, who invaded from Europe after running seventh in a French Group 1 on May 26, was off slowly and never made a move, eventually being eased in the lane.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Saratoga
Sanford (race 9)

Wired Bryan romped over maidens in his debut at Belmont Park on June 19 and showed here he may be the real deal, as he had no problem with the big class hike, easily beating some other promising juvenile males. He dueled early with Hollywood Talent, took over from that rival down the backside, still took pressure from that foe to the far turn, and kicked away to win easily despite racing a bit erratically when shying from the whip. Trainer Michael Dilger is a former Pletcher assistant, so he’s been around top 2-year-olds and knows what works for their progress. Southern Blessing, coming off a slowly rated debut win at Churchill Downs on May 24, took a nice step forward, as he broke slowly to be last early, bided his time, and steadily advanced, though he never was a threat to the winner. Hollywood Talent, second in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs on June 29, dueled early with the winner and then couldn’t keep up with that foe in the lane. All in Blue, a big debut winner for Pletcher at Belmont on July 4, stumbled badly at the start to get away poorly but still seemed to be in a good spot stalking the pace, but he never mustered a run. Debt Ceiling, the heavy favorite, having easily won his first three starts, including the Bashford Manor, was disappointing, as he stalked the pace, got squeezed back going into the far turn, gave way, and was pulled up before hitting the line.

Del Mar
San Clemente (race 8)

Wishing Gate continued her ascent and, with a big win here, stamped herself as a major player for the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 17. Coming off an easy win on Arlington Park’s turf course June 23, she bided her time in midpack, steadily advanced to the far turn, was asked for run when straightened away, grabbed the lead, and drew clear to win nicely. Unusual Way, coming off a big stakes win in her first turf try at Golden Gate Fields on June 1, went right to the lead, set a solid pace, battled back gamely when hooked by Wishing Gate into the lane, and couldn’t keep pace with that rival but stayed on well to hold second. The Del Mar Oaks is a logical spot for her, too. Iotapa, favored despite this being her first turf try, stalked in third and kept to her task decently, though she never was really a threat in the lane. Charlie Em, a Grade 3 winner on turf at Hollywood Park in her first U.S. start after coming from Europe, bided her time and made steady progress, though she never was really a threat to take the top prize.