04/23/2012 10:48AM

Trip Notes: Coolmore Lexington Stakes, Jerome Stakes, San Juan Capistrano Handicap, and more


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Jerome (race 9)

The Lumber Guy moved back in distance and down in class and that combo did the trick as the speedster got back on track with a smart victory. Breaking from the rail he dueled early with Brigand, put that rival, away into the lane and drew off to win smartly. Brigand, part of the Baffert 3-year-old armada, battled early with the winner, couldn’t keep pace in the lane but stayed on well to be a clear 2nd. Surely it didn’t help that he lost a shoe during the race. It was a NY-bred 1-2 finish. Stirred Up, the favorite from the Baffert barn, was last early and finished with good energy though he was never a threat to the top 2. Dan and Sheila stalked the pace but never really mustered a run.

Coolmore Lexington Stakes (race 9)

All Squared Away, who just in December was racing for a tag, posted a shocker and quashed a few Derby hopes with his big upset. Making his first start for trainer Wesley Ward he stalked a brisk pace, went after the leaders into the lane and surged clear for the big 70-1 win. The win does flatter Went the Day Well as this guy was 6th to that foe in the Grade 3 Spiral March 24. Summer Front, the favorite off 3 straight wins last summer/fall, all on turf, sat back and finished well for 2nd. At least this good effort shows he handles synthetic as well as grass. Hammers Terror stalked the pace, looked poised to win into the lane but couldn’t provide the needed oomph. Johannesbourbon, coming off a monster 9 3/4-length romp in his debut at last month, dueled on the pace, dispatched with the other speed, was still on the lead in midstretch but then gave way. This may all have been a bit too much too soon but it was still a most encouraging effort. Castaway dueled early with Johanesbourbon but gave way. Back to the drawing board for Baffert with this guy.

Sixty Sails Handicap (race 9)

She’s All In, who dueled and ran 2nd to the talented Tiz Miz Sue in the Grade 3 Azeri at Oaklawn last time, continued to trend north as she notched her first graded stakes win in a terrific display. She sat 3rd while Love and Pride ran off to a big early lead, had no trouble reeling in that rival on the far turn, surged past into the lane and opened up to win a laugher. Distorted Love, the longest-priced horse in the race, sat back, was still last turning for home but put in a smart finish though she was never on the winner’s radar. Arena Elvira, the favorite off 5 straight wins, sat back but could make only modest headway while never a threat. Love and Pride, coming off a big stakes win at Aqueduct Jan. 28 and a fine 2nd to top-class It’s Tricky in the Grade 2 Top Flight there March 3, ran off to a big early lead but paid the price as she gave way once headed turning for home.

Santa Anita
San Simeon Handicap (race 5)

California Flag came back from a lengthy layoff and despite his age (8) showed he still had the oomph to beat top grass sprinters. As has been his custom he used his speed, bouncing out to a clear early lead through hot splits and maintaining his clear advantage all the way to the wire, his final time just .49 seconds off his course record. Sayif chased the winner from the start, doggedly kept after him but just couldn’t close the needed ground. Compari, the favorite, got squeezed back at the start, used his speed to get into stalking position in 3rd, kept to his task well but could never get to the winner. Irish Art lagged back and made only modest headway.

Santa Anita
Santa Barbara Handicap (race 9)

The game of musical chairs that is the turf distaff division out West found yet another different gal to find the seat as the music stopped as Capital Plan took a big step up in class but moved to a longer game she seems to prefer and it paid off. She posted her only prior grass win at 1 1/4 miles. She got that distance today, sat comfortably in 2nd while Glowing Spirit ran off to a long lead, had no trouble reeling in that rival by the top of the lane, shot well clear and held sway. While runner-up Cambina closed the gap the issue was never really in doubt. Cambina, who had rallied well but couldn’t make an impact late in the Grade 2 Buena Vista and Grade 2 Santa Ana, found this longer trip to her liking as she again sat well back, was still last into the lane and then blasted home to get 2nd, though she never really looked as though she’d get to the winner. Hard Seven showed her close 3rd at 67-1 in the Grade 2 Santa Ana no fluke as she validated that run by biding her time and finished well. Camelia Rose, 5th as the favorite in the Santa Ana, stalked but lacked a run. Vamo a Galupiar, winner of the Santa Ana and who seemed poise to take control of the division out West, got a dream trip stalking the pace, made a threatening move into the lane and then came up empty. Maybe this trip is beyond her scope.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ben Ali (race 8)

Wise Dan, last seen easily winning the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Nov. 25, came back smokin’ and promptly added his name to a deep handicap division with a powerful performance, setting a track record in his romping win. He stalked the pace of Eye of the Leopard, eagerly took control going down the backstretch and then just extended his advantage from there to win a laugher. He won geared down. Big Blue Kitten lagged back, came with a nice run on the far turn to briefly look threatening but was no match for the winner while clearly 2nd best. Guys Reward was with Blue Kitten early, didn’t accelerate as quickly but plugged along well for 3rd. Rogue Romance, the 2nd choice, prompted the pace but hit the brakes hard.

Santa Anita
San Juan Capistrano Handicap (race 9)

Bourbon Bay may find Grade 1 water a smidge too deep nowadays but the classy veteran can still do big damage in the right spots. After winning the Grade 2 San Luis Rey at 1 1/2 miles March 25 he was asked to return to this longer about 1 3/4-mile trip but he’d handled it before, having won this race in 2010, but this wasn’t easy. The 6-yaer-old was last in the small field, still only 5th turning for home and put in a furious rally to just get up in the final stride. Eagle Poise, an East Coast shipper, was just in front of the winner most of the way, got an earlier run into the lane to reel in Harrods Creek inside the 16th pole, but just couldn’t quite outdo the winner. Harrods Creek, another proven stayer from back East, stalked pacesetter Hog’s Hollow, took command and opened up into the lane as if he was going to win but got a little weary late and couldn’t fend off the top 2. Dhaamer, a fine 2nd in his U.S. debut in the Grade 3 Tokyo City at 1 1/2 miles on dirt, moved back to turf for this but may have found the class hike a bit too much as he sat 4th, made a mild run into the lane but couldn’t sustain it.