09/24/2012 10:26AM

Trip Notes: Gallant Bloom Handicap, Cotillion Stakes, Pennsylvania Derby and more


Sept. 22, 2012

Gallant Bloom (race 9)

Dust and Diamonds showed she’s the real deal as she had no trouble beating a strong group of sprint distaffers. She chased pacesetter Roman Treasure from the start, surged to a clear lead into the lane and really didn’t have a nervous moment in the final furlong. Not only was it her first stakes win, but she set a stakes record as well. Judy the Beauty was just behind the winner from the start, gamely chased after that rival and while unable to get close to her finished far clear of the rest. Musical Romance, last year’s distaff sprint champ, stalked in 4th while saving ground but never really mustered a run. Turbulent Descent, the favorite off a big win in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga last month, bided her time early but made minimal headway.

Cotillion (race 10)

Questing’s coronation will have to wait as last year’s 2-year-old filly champ, My Miss Aurelia, with just a sprint win this year under her belt, showed she’s still the top gal and punched her ticket to the Grade 1 BC Ladies’ Classic with a game tally. My Miss Aurelia was content to sit 2nd as Questing set the pace, she edged closer on the turn, moved up to challenge that rival into the lane and gamely persevered to get the narrow win. The 2 did bump a bit in the lane but that had no bearing on the result. Questing, the favorite off 2 romping wins at Saratoga, bounced right out to the lead, set slow splits, battled back gamely in the lane but couldn’t quite outduel My Miss Aurelia while much the best of the others. Dixie Strike stalked the pace, tried to make a run at the top 2 into the lane but was no match for them.

Pennsylvania Derby (race 11)

Handsome Mike, the longest shot in the race, dueled with heavy favorite Alpha from the start, finally got the better of that rival into the lane and edged clear to post the big upset. His only other win was a grass sprint win at Santa Anita last October. Macho Macho lagged back early, moved up to pose a threat down the backside, fell back again as if he was done but then got going again late to just get up for 2nd, though he was never a threat to the winner. Golden Ticket, who dead-heated with Alpha for the win in the Grade 1 Travers, bided his time, came with a decent run into the lane but never really posed a danger to the winner. Alpha volleyed for the lead with Handsome Mike while seemingly a bit aggressive early, and weakened once headed into the lane.

Kent (race 7)

After failing miserably on the Triple Crown trail, Optimizer may have found his niche, and it’s no surprise that it’s going long on turf considering he’s by grass champion English Channel. The colt looked super blasting elders on the Saratoga grass Aug. 25 and he backed it up here, beating a nice group of peers. He dogged pacesetter Excaper from the start, surged to the lead when asked into the lane and powered clear to win impressively. Excaper, Grade 1-placed on turf at 2 and a turf winner this year, went right out to the lead, was pressured from the start by Optimizer, tried to battle back into the lane when that foe challenged, was no match for him but gamely held 2nd. Two Months Rent sat midpack early, got shuffled back, remained well back into the lane but finished well. Lucky Chappy, the favorite after back-to-back graded stakes placings, sat back, made a mild run into the lane but flattened out in a disappointing run. The colt has ability to be sure, but he now hasn’t won in his 8 starts since coming to the U.S. from Italy, last.