10/08/2012 1:58PM

Trip Notes: Champagne, Shadwell Turf Mile, Santa Anita Sprint Championship, and more


Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012

Frizette (race 7)

Dreaming of Julia, devastating winner of her first 2 starts, made it 3 for 3 – but there was no way this was considered easy. After 3 scratches turned this into a field of just 4, the daughter of A. P. Indy broke alertly to stalk My Happy Face. She moved up to challenge for the lead turning for home, and for a moment it looked as if she was on her way to another monster win. But that moment quickly evaporated as she ended up in a hard-fought battle all the way to the wire and just prevailed. She was pushed to the limit, and maybe that’s a good thing as far as preparation the BC Juvenile Fillies and a meeting with unbeaten queen of the West, Executiveprivilege. My Happy Face wowed fans herself at Saratoga when she posted a 21 1/4-length maiden win. She validated that run here, setting the early pace under pressure from Dreaming of Julia. She battled back gamely when taken on by that rival and gave her fits all the way to the line in a superb try. Toasting was 3rd throughout but didn’t really matter as this was strictly a 2-horse race from the half-mile pole on.

Champagne (race 8)

Shanghai Bobby, coming off an easy win in the Grade 2 Hopeful, showed he’s the best boy in the East as he beat some promising runners, including 2 barnmates many thought were better. He dogged pacesetter Goldencents from the start, took over from that rival into the lane and didn’t really have a nervous moment thereafter as he opened up to win easily. Being by multiple Grade 1 route winner Harlan’s Holiday, he should stretch out, though his connections say he’s not certain to go to the BC.  He also ran much faster than the fillies did in the Frizette. Goldencents went right to the lead, was hounded by the winner from the start, tried to keep pace with that rival turning for home but was no match for that foe. Fortify, 2nd in the Hopeful, stalked the pace and kept on evenly without really threatening. Archwarrior and Micromanage, 2 others from the Pletcher barn coming off super maiden wins at Saratoga, failed to make a dent. Both had just one race in them coming into this so this may have been too much too soon.

Jamaica (race 9)

King David, claimed for $35K off a big win on this inner course here Sept. 13, handled the huge class hike and posted a big upset, toppling some of the best 3-year-old turfers in the land. He stalked the pace of King Kreesa, went after that foe into the lane, had to work hard but was able to collar him and edge past. He’s now 5 for 7 on turf. King Kreesa, another big longshot who likewise had shown affinity for this inner course previously, ran superbly. He went right out to a clear lead, took some pressure from Howe Great, dispatched with that foe into the lane and gamely kept to his task but was just unable to fend off the winner. Both these obviously relished the soft going (the course was rated good). Summer Front stalked the pace, moved closer while saving ground going to the far turn, was still there to deep stretch, then made what looked like the winning move along the inside but then had to steady hard off King Kreesa’s heels to lose all chance. Euro raider Cogito lagged back and made minimal headway. Dullahan likewise sat back and never made a move. He may not have liked the soft footing, but after his big Grade 1 Pacific Classic win over elders on Del Mar’s synthetic track this was disappointing – and has you believing while he’s effective on dirt and turf, he’s best on synthetic.

Woodford (race 5)

Bridgetown continues to fire bullets as the veteran made it 2 straight wins with a smart tally here. He bided his time in 4th while saving ground as Great Mills set the pace under pressure from Ginplay. He moved closer turning for home, moved out for clear sailing, doggedly went after Great Mills and was able to reel in that foe and was edging away late. This makes him a logical candidate for the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. Great Mills did everything right – he used his speed to set the pace, took pressure all the way, first from Ginplay and then from Bridgetown, gamely tried to keep pace late but just couldn’t quite do so. Chamberlain Bridge, the grizzled veteran and 19-time winner, was right alongside Bridgetown from the start, tried to go with that foe into the lane but just couldn’t quite keep up.

Thoroughbred Club of America (race 6)

Groupie Doll continued her dominance of the distaff sprint scene with another powerful performance here. She broke slowly but was still able to get a decent position midpack. She steadily advanced, had to wait for an opening turning for home, surged through when it materialized and drew away without really breaking a sweat and without really being asked. That’s 4 straight wins, including 2 Grade 1’s, and this monster win sets her up as a prohibitive favorite come next month’s Grade 1 BC F&M Sprint. Strike the Moon was alongside the winner from the start, swung wide into the lane to try and rally with that gal, was no match but kept on nicely for 2nd. Honey Chile bounced out to the lead, took some pressure from Newstouse, dispatched with that rival into the lane, was no match for Groupie Doll but kept on gamely to narrowly miss second. Emma’s Encore, a Grade 1 winner at Saratoga this summer, broke poorly and was never a factor.

First Lady (race 7)

Tapitsfly showed that at this type of distance she’s about as good as any in her division as she gamely notched her 2nd Grade 1 tally. Coming off a 6th in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga when she went too fast too soon, she stalked the modest pace first of Summer Soiree and then Daisy Devine, moved closer turning for home, swung very wide into the lane and kept to her task gamely to reel in Daisy Devine in the final strides. Still, she may be a gal without a distance in the BC as the F&M Turf is likely too far and taking on males in the Mile seems daunting. Daisy Devine dogged Summer Soiree early, took over from that rival turning for home, battled back gamely when hooked by Tapitsfly but just couldn’t quite fend her off while much the best of the rest. Hungry Island, the favorite, bided her time as usual, came with a threatening run into the lane but didn’t sustain it. Summer Soiree set the pace and tired, a disappointing run considering she showed signs in her comeback at Saratoga in August that she was ready to get back to top form.

Breeders’ Futurity (race 8)

Joha, a stakes winner on Polytrack at Woodbine and coming off a big 2nd in a Grade 2 turf stakes at Saratoga, showed his versatility again and affection for this synthetic with a game tally. He went right out to the lead from his rail slot, took pressure much of the way, edged away some into the lane and gamely kept his rivals at bay. He showed plenty of guts here, though the BC Juvenile remains dicey as that is on dirt, a surface he’s yet to see. That may make the BC Juvenile Turf more appealing. Dynamic Sky, coming off a stakes win on Woodbine’s Polytrack, bided his time midpack, made a run at the winner into the lane and stayed after him but just couldn’t close the gap. This was a nice run, too, considering he had a difficult draw (post 12). Java’s War sat midpack, made a threatening run into the lane but couldn’t sustain it. Tizracer, the favorite off a monster maiden win at Belmont Sept. 8 (10 1/2 lengths), seemed in a great spot dogging the winner from the start, was still there turning for home but then gave way badly. Either way this was too much too soon, he didn’t care for the surface or something went awry.

Shadwell Turf Mile (race 9)

Wise Dan showed again that the Euros who come over for the Grade 1 BC Mile, and West Coast kingpin Obviously, better come with their “A” game if they are to topple him as he put up another splendid performance. Coming off a monster win in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, he broke slowly, bided his time early toward the back, made an early move to get closer and then swung wide on the turn to start a powerful move that carried him past his rivals and clear. The Mile is reportedly his main goal, but he would be scary in the BC Classic as well. He might be the most talented horse in the land. Willcox Inn, coming off a disappointing run in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, sat behind the winner early remained midpack to the top of the lane when he swung out and finished well, though he was no threat to Wise Dan. Slip and Drive likewise sat well back and came home with good energy. Dominus stalked top 3-year-old Silver Max, took the lead turning for home but gave way. Silver Max, taking his first swing at elders, found that hurdle too much as he set the pace before giving way once headed turning for home.

Indiana Oaks (race 11)

Grace Hall showed again that when she’s in the mood and things break her way she’s capable of big efforts, as she dominated this. The daughter of Empire Maker dogged pacesetter Eden’s Moon from the start, challenged that foe for the lead turning for home, took over and drew off to win with ease and without really being urged. Nice as this was, there still seems a big gap from what she’s done to what she’ll need if she wants to take on the big gals in the BC Ladies’ Classic. Wine Princess was just behind the dueling leaders from the start, tried to make a run on the turn, was no match for the winner but was able to move past a tiring Eden’s Moon in the final furlong to get 2nd. Eden’s Moon went right to the lead, was immediately pressured by Grace Hall, battled with that rival turning for home but then weakened.

Indiana Derby (race 12)

Neck ‘n Neck flattered the Grade 1 Travers form as after finishing 6th there he bounced back to top form and captured this. He sat well back early, gradually improved his position while staying very wide going to the far turn, swung even wider into the lane and finished full of run to get the win. Bourbon Courage, coming off a romping win in the Grade 2 Super Derby, stalked the pace, got shuffled back going to the backside to lose position, was still well back into the lane but came home strongly in a fine try. Fed Biz dueled with Junebugred from the start, put that rival away into the lane, gamely held the lead to deep stretch but couldn’t fend off the top 2. Second City, previously unbeaten in 4 starts, sat back, made an early move to press the pace but gave way. This task was just too tough.

Hawthorne Gold Cup (race 8)

Race lost a bit of shine when Nates Mineshaft scratched. He also figured as the pacesetter. Pool Play, a 7-year-old who was winless this year, broke slowly to be last from the start, was still there turning for home though he’d closed the gap, surged to the lead in midstretch and kept hard-trying Cease at bay. The veteran is now 2 for 2 on dirt. Cease, a good 3rd in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga last month, was a few lengths in front of the eventual winner from the start, moved up to threaten into the lane, saw the winner blow past, doggedly went after him but couldn’t get to him. Eldaafer pressured pacesetter Alternation from the start, took the lead from that foe into the lane but couldn’t outfinish the top 2. Alternation, the favorite, went right to the lead, took constant pressure from Eldaafer and gave way in a disappointing run.

Santa Anita
Arroyo Seco Mile (race 3)

Obviously showed he’s the real deal and not merely a Del Mar specialist as the one-time Euro noted his 3rd straight front-running mile win. As with his last 2 wins he bounced right out to a clear lead, opened up more room into the lane and that gave him the buffer to fend off hard-charging Japanese raider Trailblazer. This guy just missed the course mark (set the course mark at Del Mar last time out) and is now 3 for 3 at a mile and has become downright Lure-like – though Wise Dan and some big Euros post huge obstacles come the BC Mile. Truth be told, though, they’re going to have to come get this guy. He's not BC-nominated but his owners will reportedly fork over $100K to remedy that. Trailblazer sat 4th while Obviously sizzled on the lead, came out into the lane and finished smartly. Mr. Commons was asked for most speed to stay within reach of Obviously. That worked to a point, but he then lacked his usual punch in the lane. A return to sit-and-blast-home tactics is likely for the BC Mile, and really affords him his best chance.

Santa Anita
Santa Anita Sprint Championship (race 8)

Baffert ran 1-2 and upset defending champ and champion sprinter Amazombie as Coil and Capital Account dominated. Coil got blinkers back and he won 3 straight with blinkers in 2010/2011 before having them removed last summer. With blinkers back he bided his time early, steadily advanced, pitched wide into the lane, surged to the lead by midstretch and gamely got to the line before the hard-charging Capital Account. He looks like a big player for the BC Sprint now, particularly as it’s here, he’s beaten the best in the West, and many Sprint candidates may be going for the BC Dirt Mile instead. Capital Account was last early, still last turning for home but finished full of run to just miss. This guy fires every time and is a legit Sprint contender. This result reverses the order these 2 finished in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar Aug. 26. Jimmy Creed stalked and kept to his task well. Amazombie stalked in 3rd, moved up to challenge with Coil but didn’t sustain his run and actually got passed by 2 horses in the final half-furlong. Reneesgotzip may be a crack 3-year-old filly sprinter but she found these older males far too tough as she dogged pacesetter Castletown before weakening to finish last.

Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012

Bourbon (race 7)

Balance the Books narrowly proved best at a short price, managing to avoid some significant traffic issues in the lane. The 3-year-old, coming off a game win in the Grade 2 With Anticipation on turf (beating Joha, who won Saturday’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity here), hopped at the start to get away slowly, lagged back, as is his custom, began to advance on the far turn, angled very wide into the lane, was carried out some by the traffic issues to his left but it wasn’t enough to halt his momentum and he kept on smartly to get just get up. This would appear to set him up for the BC Juvenile Turf. Really Sharp chased pacesetter Road Agent, took over from that tiring rival into the lane, swerved out badly in midstretch to impede a number of rivals, but kept on smartly to just miss. He was DQ’d from 2nd to 6th. Brown Almighty lagged well back, like the winner, was closing well but had to steady when interfered with. Ditto Sonofasamurai and Summit County. Strike the Note was battling for the lead when impeded and gave way.

Spinster (race 8)

In Lingerie struck a blow for the 3-year-olds and validated her love of this synthetic track (now 3 for 3 here) with a smart victory over elders. She stalked comfortably in 4th, moved up with Mystical Star to battle for the lead in midstretch, got the better of that foe and edged clear. Mystical Star, previously 2 for 2 on this track, likewise showed she loves it here as she sat on the winner’s hip from the start, moved with that rival into the lane, put her head in front at the eighth pole but couldn’t quite keep up while well clear of the others. She’s yet to race on dirt but she’s by Ghostzapper, so while she’s a Grade 2 winner on turf this gives options for the BC. Upperline, coming off a solid 5th in the Grade 1 Beverly D., was just behind the top 2 early, didn’t accelerate as quickly but got going decently late to get 3rd, though she was no threat to the top 2. Tiz Miz Sue was slow into stride to be last early, was still well back turning for home and made minimal headway. Aruna, the defending champ, likewise sat back, made a bit of a run but flattened out.