07/29/2013 12:04PM

Trip Notes: Haskell Invitational, Bing Crosby, Jim Dandy, and more


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Prioress (race 5)

Lighthouse Bay continued her ascent as she notched her first Grade 1 win while posting the big 21-1 upset. A stakes winner at Parx last time out she was stepping well up in class here but handled it well. She bided her time while Wildcat Lily and So Many Ways dueled, and came with a smart run along the inside to overwhelm the tiring Wildcat Lily. On to the Grade 1 Test here Aug. 24. Wildcat Lily dueled early with So Many Ways, with heavy fave Kauai Katie sitting just in behind, got rid of So Many Ways but didn’t have enough gas in the tank to fend off the winner. Irish Lute sat back and finished with good energy but was never really a threat. So Many Ways, winner of the Grade 3 Schuylverille and Grade 1 Spinaway here last year, inexplicably dueled with Wildcat Lily early and paid the price. Kauai Katie, the overwhelming favorite, seemed in an ideal spot just behind the dueling leaders, loomed menacingly turning for home but then fell apart and wasn’t persevered with late, finishing last. The way she came home, something may have gone awry.

Diana (race 9)

The scratch of likely pacesetter Dayatthespa changed the race complexion and Laughing took full advantage, gamely leading all the way to notch her first Grade 1 win. She went right to the lead, was able to set a slow pace, though Centre Court stayed close. Centre Court moved up alongside going down the backstretch but the splits didn’t get any faster so Laughing continued to just stay in front, battled back gamely when challenged by Centre Court into the lane, dispatched with that rival and showed heart keeping hard-charging Dream Peace and Stephanie’s Kitten at bay. Superb ride by Jose Lezcano. Trainer Alan Goldberg said the Grade 2 Ballston Spa here Aug. 24 could be next and then the Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont Sept. 28. Dream Peace saved ground throughout while just a couple lengths behind the winner, moved closer while still behind horses into the lane, found a seam and came with a run, but just couldn’t get past the winner. She was 2nd in this last year as well, and this was a nice move forward after a couple so-so efforts since returning this year. Stephanie’s Kitten was last from the start but never that far away. She moved closer and to the outside on the far turn, stayed wide and in the clear into the lane and finished well but just wasn’t good enough. Centre Court stalked the winner early, moved up alongside down the backstretch, looked poised to take over into the lane but then gave up on her run.

Jim Dandy (race 10)

Palace Malice backed up his strong Grade 1 Belmont win with a thoroughly professional victory here. He broke sharply and showed speed to dog pacesetter Moreno from the start through a solid pace. He moved closer to that foe on the turn, had to work to nudge past but finally put that guy away, opened up and kept Will Take Charge at bay. His time was excellent (1:47.37) making it the 2nd fastest of the 42 Jim Dandys at this 1 1/8-mile distance. Earlier on the card, graded-stakes-winning elder Caixa Eletronica won in 1:50.91. The Grade 1 Travers here Aug. 24 figures next and will be most intriguing with the presence of Ky. Derby hero Orb and Palace Malice’s stablemate and Grade 1 Haskell champ Verrazano. Will Take Charge lagged back, came with a smart run through the lane, though it never appeared as though he’d catch the winner. Moreno set the pace under constant pressure from the winner, gamely rebuffed that foe to midstretch but then gave way. Still, not a bad try at all with the big step up in class. Both he and Will Take Charge figure to come back in the Travers as well. Mylute sat well back as usual but never made a move in a very disappointing effort. Tough to go to the Travers off this.

Del Mar
San Diego (race 8)

Kettle Corn was a strong 2nd in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup and he showed with a big effort here he might be better than ever as he upended big favorite and feel-good story Paynter in the final furlong. Kettle Corn was last early as Batti Man set a modest pace. He moved to the inside on the far turn, angled out into the lane and came home gamely to foil Paynter in the final yards. The Grade 1 Pacific Classic here Aug. 25 will reportedly be next. Paynter, heavily favored for his 2nd start back after nearly dying last summer, dogged pacesetter Batti Man from the start, took over into the lane looking very much like the winner but then couldn’t quite fend off Kettle Corn. The Pacific Classic is surely an option for him but Bob Baffert will already be sending out favorite Game On Dude so they may look elsewhere for his next run. In fact, Baffert mentioned the Grade 1 Woodward at saratoga Aug. 31 as an option. They might also think about shipping since rider Rafael Bejarano said the colt didn’t appear to handle the track. Batti Man set a solid pace under pressure, kept in the game smartly and only succumbed in the final half-furlong. Clubhouse Ride bided his time but never made a move, finishing last. After a busy year and some brutally hard races it looks like he’s in need of a break.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Amsterdam (race 10)

Forty Tales has shown he’s capable of big efforts. Well, he produced such a run here to easily prove best. Coming off wins in the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill April 27 and Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont June 8, he, as usual, was slow into stride, bided his time while saving ground, angled out into the lane, was asked for run and powered home to just get up in the final strides. Surely the Grade 1 King’s Bishop here Aug. 24 is next and he looms the one to beat there. Mico Margarita chased pacesetter Mentor Cane, took over into the lane when that foe blew the turn but couldn’t quite fend off the winner. Salutos Amigos stalked the pace and stayed on decently for 3rd. Mentor Cane set a hot pace, began to drift out down the backside, entered the turn well wide, continued to lug out, relinquished the lead and couldn’t get back in the game.

Matchmaker (race 5)

Starstruck got blinkers back on and the Irish import showed she can do some damage in the right spots with a smart victory. She stalked in 4th while Minakshi and favored Channel Lady dueled. The splits weren’t terribly quick so she moved closer, went after the lead turning for home, opened up and had enough to hold hard-charging Naples Bay safe. Naples Bay broke slowly, was content to sit last, remained well back to the top of the lane before finding her top gear and finishing strongly, though it never really looked as though she’d get to the winner. Minakshi dueled with Channel Lady, got the better of that foe turning for home, was immediately taken on and passed by the winner and then by Naples Bay. Channel Lady pressured Minakshi from the start but weakened from those efforts.

Molly Pitcher (race 6)

Race complexion changed considerably when major player Funny Proposition scratched. That left Joyful Victory as thoroughly dominant on paper and that’s the way it played out on the track. She went right to the lead, set modest splits, kicked away on the turn and just kept expanding her lead to win in a romp. After a disappointing run at Belmont she looks fully back on her game and trainer Larry Jones said she’ll now target the Grade 1 Zenyatta at Santa Anita Sept. 28 and Grade 1 BC Ladies’ Classic there Nov. 1. Wine Princess sat 4th early, made a decent run through the lane and while never a threat to the winner was tons the best of the rest (7 1/4 lengths). Lady Samurai tried to make a run at the winner going down the backstretch but then gave way.

Monmouth Cup (race 9)

Race was marred by an injury to heavy favorite Take Charge Indy. Pants On Fire continued his love affair with this track as he won for the 3rd time in 5 starts, posting the mild upset. Freshened since June 1, he got a great trip stalking in 3rd while saving ground as Take Charge Indy set the early pace. Pants On Fire made a run for the lead going into the far turn right after Take Charge Indy was pulled up, opened up some into the lane and kept hard-trying Hymn Book at bay. Hymn Book, winner of the Grade 1 Donn at Gulfstream in February 2012 but just 1 for 8 since, lagged back, as is his custom, and came with an energetic run though you could pretty much tell he wasn’t going to get to the winner. Ponzi Scheme bided his time, moved up nicely to be just behind the winner turning for home, but couldn’t sustain his run. Take Charge Indy went right to the lead, was clear going down the backstretch when rider Gary Stevens said he heard a pop at around the half-mile pole and the horse was pulled up. It was reported he had a condylar fracture of the left fore and he was going right in for surgery.


Oceanport (race 12)

Silver Max took full advantage of his speed, his rail draw and the lack of other top-class speed as he easily captured this. He broke alertly to grab the early lead, hugged the fence while being pressured by Tune Me In, dispatched with that foe turning for home, blew the race wide open into the lane and cruised home an easy winner. Nice stuff, and while he’s won going longer this type of trip might be his optimum. The Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga Aug. 31 at this same distance may be next. Howe Great sat midpack, bided his time, finished nicely but was no threat at all to the winner. Hudson Steele likewise sat back and finished with good energy. Swift Warrior, the favorite, broke slowly, got shuffled back to last going down the backstretch and was never able to get involved, though he passed a few tired rivals.

Haskell (race 13)

Verrazano thoroughly dominated and showed he may well indeed be the class of this class. He stalked the pace while Oxbow set modest splits, moved up to grab the lead without being urged turning for home and expanded his advantage from there to win a laugher. It’s the largest margin of victory ever in the Haskell. Yes, it was the slowest Haskell since 1978 but the track was playing quite slow and the way he dominated was most impressive. The Grade 1 Travers is next and he figures to be favored whether Orb and Palace Malice show up or not. Power Broker was just behind the winner from the start, stayed just behind him to the top of the lane, gamely chased that foe and while no match was clearly the best of the rest (6 lengths clear of 3rd). Micromanage lagged back and finished decently, though he wasn’t never in the equation. Oxbow went right out to the lead, set modest splits but gave way once headed into the lane. Rider Gary Stevens said Oxbow didn’t feel right, and reports are he may have a soft tissue injury.


Del Mar
Bing Crosby (race 8)

More confusion for the West Coast sprint division as upstart Points Offthebench tried stakes company for the first time and made himself into a Grade 1 winner. A winner of 4 of his previous 5 and freshened since a nice optional claiming win at Hollywood May 27, he stalked the solid pace of invader Coach Bob, moved up to challenge for the lead turning for home and gamely outdueled stubborn 3-year-old Goldencents. Off this the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien at seven furlongs here Aug. 25 figures next. Goldencents, a 3-year-old facing elders for the first time and cutting back to a sprint after showing high speed routing, actually bided his time early, came with a smart run, fought to the line but couldn’t outfinish the winner. Jimmy Creed stalked in 3rd, loomed ominously turning for home but flattened out. Comma to the Top and Coach Bob dueled and both paid the price, weakening in the lane.