04/30/2012 8:51AM

Trip Notes: Derby Trial, San Francisco Mile, Wilshire Handicap, and more

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Belmont
Westchester (race 9)

To Honor and Serve stamped himself the one to beat for the Grade 1 Met Mile here May 28 with a powerful comeback run that says he may be ready to bud into something special. He was already good enough to impressively take the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Nov. 26. He was given time off since and came back smokin’, sitting 2nd while Bold Deed ran off to a long lead, had no trouble reeling in that rival and then drew off while well in hand. He caught a break as the field was whittled to just 4 after 3 scratches and surely the Met Mile will be much, much tougher, but you had to be impressed with how he won. Boys at Tosconova was a bit slow into stride, sat last early in the small field, came with a smart run but was never really a threat to the winner. Bold Deed ran off to a big lead (8 lengths going to the far turn) but weakened from those efforts. After a huge win over NY-breds last time he found these waters too.

Churchill
Derby Trial (race 10)

A severe storm (hail, rain) delayed this opening-night card and this was run on a sloppy track. Hierro returned to the site of his best race, his smashing maiden win last Nov. 9, and that did the trick as he won a contentious renewal. The son of Hard Spun seemed quite comfortable in the goo. He stalked the pace, came with a smart wide run to grab the lead inside the final furlong and edge clear. He obviously likes it here. Paynter, favored off a good 4th in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in his 2nd start, dueled early with The Black and Saint of Saints, pulled back a bit going down the backstretch, but went after leader The Black again on the far turn, pushed his way to the lead in midstretch but couldn’t quite finish with Hierro. Stealcase, a well-beaten 5th by Derby contender Went the Day Well in the Grade 3 Spiral at Turfway March 24, stalked the pace, was right with the top 2 by midstretch and stayed on well.

Lone Star
Texas Mile (race 8)

Endorsement was all set to go into the 2010 Kentucky Derby after a big win in the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby but was injured and not seen again until December 2011. He has shown since returning what kind of promise he held and he posted his biggest win since the Sunland tally with a smart performance here. He comfortably stalked in 4th, pitched wide into the lane, had no trouble going past favorite Canonize in the final half-furlong and drew away to win nicely. Canonize, the favorite, was just behind the winner early, moved earlier to challenge on the turn, took command into the lane as if he would win but has no answer for Endorsement’s charge. Get in Da House was well back early and finished strongly, though he never really was a threat to the top 2. Coyote Legend stalked the pace, moved up to challenge for the lead on the turn but weakened.

Golden Gate
San Francisco Mile (race 7)

Hudson Landing, a former claimer, struck a blow for the local contingent as he toppled a few highly regarded Southern California raiders. Hudson Landing, who was 5th in this race last year, was winning for the 3rd straight time since being claimed for $50,000. He bided his time early behind a modest pace, steadily advanced to the far turn, moved to wrest the lead from Gallant Son in midstretch and gamely persevered to fend off Jeranimo in the final yards. Jeranimo was well back early, started to move up on the turn but ran up behind a group of tiring runners, had to wait for room, swung very wide into the lane and finished with gusto but was just too late. Gallant Son stalked the pace, made a smart run to the lead into the lane, but couldn’t quite finish with the top 3. Calimonco stalked the pace, loomed a threat into the lane, but couldn’t sustain his bid.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hollywood
Wilshire Handicap (race 8)

Quiet Oasis, who flashed much promise last year at 3 and making her first start since finishing 4th in the Grade 1 Matriarch, showed what the fuss was all about as she posted a big upset in her comeback. She showed enough speed to stalk the pace, doggedly went after the leader into the lane and got up in the final yards. The way she won this there’s no reason to believe she can’t be a player in a race like the Grade 1 Gamely here May 28. Antares World, long a bigshot on turf in Northern California but who had previously founds trips into these deeper waters a bit too much, ran splendidly in defeat, chasing pacesetter Briecat, doggedly keeping after that miss through the lane, and while unable to rally with Quiet Oasis finished in a dead heat for 2nd. Briecat, a Grade 2 winner on this course and coming off a solid 4th in a stakes at Santa Anita, opened up a clear lead, was still clear in midstretch, just couldn’t quite fend off the winner and held her share of 2nd. Nereid, the favorite making her first start since finishing 3rd in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland last fall, lagged back and finished well. She can move up off this outing, and the Gamely would seem a logical next step for her as well.