07/30/2012 9:39AM

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

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saratoga
Diana (race 9)

Winter Memories relished the soggy going and again made her bid as the top turf distaffer around with a strong victory. Making like her mother, who also won this race, Winter Memories bided her time in 4th, came with her customary burst into the lane that swept her to a clear lead, had trouble changing leads, hence she drifted out in the lane, but she was never really in any danger from the furlong pole to the line. Dream Peace was just behind the winner from the start, doggedly went after that rival when that foe made her move, kept to her task well but couldn’t keep up. The Euro raider will now stay in the U.S. with trainer Chad Brown. Zagora, the defending champ, showed a bit more speed to sit 3rd early but then lacked a punch. Coming off an injury (splint) she may have needed this run. Tapitsfly set a solid pace but weakened, which may prove that nine furlongs is beyond her scope, at least at this high level.

Saratoga
Jim Dandy (race 10)

Alpha likely punched his ticket to the Grade 1 Travers here Aug. 25 as the son of Bernardini flattered the Derby form with a smart tally. He obviously relished the sloppy going and rider Ramon Dominguez took advantage. He sent this guy right out to the lead, they set modest splits and rebuffed a long challenge from Neck ‘n Neck in the lane before drawing off again late. Alpha is now 2 for 2 here. Neck ‘n Neck stalked the pace, made a run at the winner from the far turn to midstretch but couldn’t get to him and then saw the winner edge away late. This still showed he’s the real. Liaison was a bit slow into stride, put in an energetic finish but wasn’t ever really on the winner’s radar. Teeth of the Dog was just behind Alpha from the start, loomed a threat on the far turn but then came up empty.

Del Mar
San Diego Handicap (race 8)

Rail Trip turned back the clock as the 7-year-old, a Grade 1 winner who saw his form tail off the past couple years, got back on track with a nice victory. The veteran sat with tepid favorite John Scott on the pace as the 2 set slow splits. This basically turned into a match race as the 2 battled throughout with the veteran getting the better of his younger rival in final half-furlong. John Scott looks like a comer as he volleyed on the lead, battled all the way but just couldn’t quite get there. Kettle Corn, who was quite fractious in the gate, stalked and kept to his task well but the pace worked again him. The pace really worked against previously unbeaten Take Control, who sat back and finished well, though he was trying to catch fresh horses.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saratoga
Amsterdam (race 10)

Currency Swap, who posted his biggest win here last year when winning the Grade 1 Hopeful, looks fully back on his game. Coming off a fine 2nd to top 3-year-old sprinter Trinniberg in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, Currency Swap stalked pacesetter Doctor Chit, moved up to challenge that foe into the lane, finally got the better of him in deep stretch and edged away late. Doctor Chit, a winner of 3 straight in impressive fashion, showed he’s the real deal as he set a hot pace, battled back gamely when hooked by CurrencySwap but couldn’t keep up in the final 16th. He’ll likely be seen in the King’s Bishop as well. Unbridled’s Note stalked in 4th and kept to his task well. Fort Loudon was the big disappointment. Coming off a string of big races in Florida he sat 5th from the start and never made a move. Maybe he’s simply more comfortable in Florida. Gun Boat went to his nose at the start to lose all chance.

Monmouth
Matchmaker (race 10)

Laughing got away from Grade 1 winner Zagora and took advantage. The filly was just behind pacesetter Silver Screamer early, took over from that rival going to the backstretch, set modest splits, edged away a bit into the lane and had enough to keep hard-trying Shimmering Moment at bay. She may be a cut or 2 below the division’s elite but showed here that in the right spot she can do some damage. Shimmering Moment broke slowly, was content to sit last much of the way, moved to the rail into the lane, put in a strong rally but just couldn’t quite get to the winner. Island School lagged back and made some headway but was never really a threat. Silver Screamer had the early lead, was content to give it up to Laughing while then applying pressure herself, was still in the thick of it to midstretch before weakening.

Monmouth
Molly Pitcher (race 11)

Brushed by a Star, continued her ascent as she notched her 3rd straight win and first graded stakes win. As with her last 2 wins it was again her speed that proved crucial. She bounced right out to the lead but settled well off the rail, was able to set dawdling splits, rebuffed a challenge from Absinthe Minded into the lane, spurted clear again and kept her rivals at arm’s length. Successful Song lagged back, was still well back into the lane but found her top gear and finished well. R Gypsy Gold broke slowly, was content to sit last, remained there to the top of the lane and finished well. Afleeting Lady sat back but never made a move. Derwin’s Star, coming off a superb Grade 3 sprint win at Belmont, stalked the pace, loomed a threat into the lane but gave way readily. She may have been exposed distance-wise and figures to return to sprinting.

Monmouth
Oceanport (race 12)

Tune Me In picked the right day for the race of his life. Winless since taking an optional claimer here last Sept. 11 and coming off a dull run, he popped up with a big effort to post the upset. He was asked for early run as he dueled with Get Serious. They set very slow splits, were then joined by Queen’splatekitten into the lane but Tune Me In gamely persevered to prove best in 3-horse fight to the line. Queen’splatekitten stalked the pace, moved up to get involved with the 2 leaders into the lane, battled gamely but just couldn’t get to the winner. Get Serious, winner of this race before and dominant on this course (11 wins), dueled with the winner from the start, battled hard but just weakened a smidge in the final strides.

Monmouth
Haskell (race 13)

Paynter likely established himself the favorite for the Travers with a powerful performance. He broke alertly but was content to stalk pacesetting Gemologist, roared past that rival on the far turn when asked on the far turn, shot clear into the lane, was briefly threatened by Nonios but powered home to win easily. Yet another Haskell for Bob Baffert (6). Nonios stalked the pace, came with a strong run to look very threatening into the lane but couldn’t keep pace with the winner while easily best of the rest. Still, a very nice run and a flattering result for the California 3-year-olds. Stealcase sat last, was still there turning for home but then finished with good energy, though he was never a threat to the top 2. Dullahan sat back and never made a move. This may be the final proof he really isn’t as good on dirt as he is on turf and synthetic. Gemologist set the pace under modest pressure, put up minimal resistance on the turn when tackled by Paynter and faded badly to finish last in a disappointing return run.

Del Mar
Bing Crosby (race 8)

Amazombie reaffirmed his status as one of the elite sprinters with an impressive victory. Last year’s sprint champ stalked the pace of Comma to the Top and The Factor, pounced on those rivals in midstretch, drew clear to win fairly comfortably, and ran the fastest six furlongs of the meet. The Factor dogged pacesetter Comma to the Top from the start, got the better of that rival into the lane but couldn’t match the winner late. Capital Account was last early, bided is time and finished smartly. Comma to the Top set the pace with solid splits but was hounded by The Factor and weakened late.