07/08/2013 9:33AM

Trip Notes: Hollywood Gold Cup, United Nations, Suburban, and more


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Suburban Handicap (race 8)

A slight drop helped Flat Out continue his love affair with this track as he made it 5 wins in 6 starts here, the lone loss being a decent 3rd in the Grade 1 Met Mile last time out. This longer trip may have been more to his liking, and this wasn’t the strongest Suburban renewal we’ve seen. He showed a little more speed this time to press pacesetting Percussionist, had little trouble rolling past that foe into the lane, and the deal was pretty much sealed. Off this he may try the deepest end of the pool again in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Aug. 3 and then possibly the Grade 1 Woodward there Aug. 31. Last Gunfighter, going in quest of a 7th straight win, did nothing wrong in defeat. He sat 4th early, tried to make a run at Flat Out into the lane, was unable to get to that rival and had to work hard to just get up for 2nd. Fast Falcon, a well-beaten 3rd in the Grade 2 Brooklyn in the slop here June 7, was last early in the small field, came with a smart run into the lane to briefly look threatening but flattened out and lost the place in the final strides. Alpha, who returned from Dubai after failing to threaten in a couple Group 2’s there earlier this year, was disappointing. He thrashed around some while in the gate (popped open his stall door), stalked in 3rd but never made a run. Maybe a return to Saratoga, where he won the Grade 1 Travers and Grade 2 Jim Dandy, can snap him back to life.

Dwyer (race 9)

Moreno appears to be a new horse with blinkers as the son of Horse of the Year Ghostzapper (who had 3 graded stakes wins this weekend) had little trouble taking the big step up from a maiden win to capturing this Grade 2. He again used his speed, going right out to the lead, was able to set modest fractions and just drew away when asked in the lane. This was a nice step forward (the six furlong and mile splits were faster than what Flat Out did 20 minutes earlier) though it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready to tackle Orb, Oxbow, Palace Malice, and company. Saint Viguer stalked in 3rd, tried to make a run at the winner on the far turn, was no match for that foe but plugged along decently for 2nd. For Great Glory lagged back and finished decently. Battier, the favorite, sat 2nd just behind the eventual winner while seemingly in a good spot and traveling well, was asked for run going to the turn but not only didn’t respond but instead bid a hasty retreat. The way he faded make you wonder if something went awry.

Salvator Mile (race 10)

Raging Daoust showed you can never underestimate the horse-for-course angle as the 4-year-old gelding, coming off an allowance sprint, made it 6 wins in 7 starts here at a hefty 33-1. He’d won his only prior try at a mile and showed again here he can handle it as he stalked in 3rd while Big Sur set the pace, doggedly went after that foe into the lane, kept as him and just got up in the final stride to nip that rival. Big Sur, coming off a smart stakes win over this track May 25, ran splendidly in defeat. He bounced out to the lead, was allowed to set modest splits, gamely battled back as the winner kept after him through the lane but just came up on the wrong side of the photo while clear the best of the rest. Csaba, winner of 5 of his last 6, the lone loss being in the Grade 1 Donn (5th) and coming off a smart stakes win at CRC, bided his time and came with a steady rally but was never really a threat. Discreet Dancer, who earlier this year looked as though he might be among the game’s top dirt milers, didn’t show his usual speed as he sat 4th while Big Sur set a modest pace, and never really mustered a charge. After a poor run in the Grade 1 Met Mile (9th) and then this you wonder if it’s back to the drawing board, or at least back to Gulfstream where he’s done his best work (4 for 5).

United Nations (race 11)

Big Blue Kitten, a strong 2nd in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup here last month, notched his first Grade 1 victory as he continued his strong form. A winner of 3 of his last 4, he bided his time early, as usual, found room along the rail to launch his run into the lane, powered past his rivals and was drawing away at the wire to win easily. Teaks North, winner of this race in 2011 and coming off a nice stakes win at Belmont May 15, showed he’s not washed up by any means as he stalked the pace, got shuffled back some down the backside, recovered and moved closer again and kept to his task nicely. Hangover Kid, stepping up in class, was last early, still well back turning for home and finished well though he was never really a threat to the winner. Little Mike, the defending champ and making his first start since a couple dull outings in Dubai, went right out to the lead as expected, gamely battled back when hooked into the lane, still showed his grit to remain on the lead to midstretch but then weakened. The loss may have been more a function of needing the race then him losing a step. After all, he did battle back here, something he didn’t do in Dubai. He will reportedly to defend his title in the Arlington Million next month.

Carry Back (race 7)

Mico Margarita was game winning an allowance at Churchill June 14 and that may be a sign he’s turned the corner with blinkers added as he handled the step up in class here to notch his first stakes win. He stalked the pace as heavy favorite R Free Roll and Rockyshomerun dueled early, easily went past those tiring rivals into the lane and drew off to win smartly. Red Rocket Express, a winner of 4 of his first 5 starts, showed no speed to be last early, was still last turning for home, finished with good energy but was never a threat to the winner. Sr. Quisqueyano, a proven commodity as he’s a multiple stakes winner here, sat back early, steadily advanced while wide, came home nicely and while never a threat to the winner just lost 2nd in the final stride. R Free Roll, a filly who was the 9-10 favorite off a romping win over many of these in the Unbridled here June 8 where she earned a 101 Beyer, failed to duplicate that run as she dueled early and weakened from those efforts.

Azalea (race 8)

Wildcat Lily has apparently figured things out. She was sharp already, winning twice and running 2nd in her next two before romping in the Leave Me Alone here June 8, and she moved forward yet again to win here and notch her first graded stakes win. She was 2nd from the start, dogging pacesetter Dreaming of Susie, moved closer to that foe on the turn, engaged that rival into the lane and gamely won a stretch-long battle. She ran .21 faster than the boys did 20 minutes earlier in the Carry Back. The way she’s going it’s no reach to think about a race like the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga Aug. 24, though obviously the water would be much, much deeper. Dreaming of Susie, a winner of 3 of her first 4 starts including an allowance win here May 26 over Wildcat Lily, ran splendidly again but just couldn’t quite handle Wildcat Lily. She set the pace from the start, responded gamely when challenged by Wildcat Lily into the lane, fought all the way to the line only to just miss while clearly the best of the others. The Test could be on her docket as well. Speedinthruthecity, favored off 2 smart wins at Churchill, sat 3rd a couple lengths behind the top two, gamely chased them throughout but just wasn’t good enough.

Smile Sprint Handicap (race 9)

Bahamian Squall had burned some money (3rd when favored in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint, 4th when favored in the Ponche here June 8) but he picked the right day for a top effort as he notched his first graded stakes win over a strong bunch. He stalked the pace of Cajun Breeze and Artefacto, moved closer turning for home while staying out in the clear and finished well to actually be drawing away late. Nice as this was, you get the impression that if you ran this race 6 times you’d get 5 different winners. Trinniberg, last year’s sprint champ and favored despite two very dull outings this year, looked more like his old self. He didn’t do it with sizzling speed, though, as instead he stalked the pace, went after the tiring leaders into the lane and finished gamely to just get 2nd. In his defense, you could be forgiving about those prior two outings as the first came Dubai (he’s not the first American horse to not run well there) and the 2nd came in the slop at Churchill May 4 (he’s not a fan of such footing). Could be he’s back on track and maybe that means a strong 2nd half of the season is forthcoming. Jackson Bend, making his 2nd start since coming out of a brief retirement, showed improvement as he bided his time early, as usual, and finished with good energy for 3rd, just missing 2nd by a nose. Justin Phillip, coming off a Grade 3 win at Oaklawn and Grade 2 second at Belmont, sat midpack and finished willingly only losing 2nd by a nose and a neck.

Princess Rooney Handicap (race 10)

Starship Truffles romped by 10 over starter allowance foes here June 29 and came back quickly and became a Grade 1 winner. This win was Groupie Doll-ish in style as she stalked early, then blew the race wide open as she surged past her rivals to grab the lead on the far turn, quickly opened up and had didn’t have a nervous moment thereafter. Judy the Beauty was a bit unlucky. She just missed winning the Grade 1 Prioress at Saratoga last summer. Coming off a sharp 2nd in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill May 27, she got squeezed back at the start to get away poorly, bided her time, steadily moved closer, came with a smart run into the lane to look threatening but couldn’t close the gap on the winner in the final furlong. The bad start cost her position but on this day she probably wasn’t going to beat Starship Truffles anyway. My Pal Chrissy was well back early, still well back going to the far turn before putting in a smart, sustained rally though she was never really a threat to the top 2. Spectacular Sky had no chance as she broke poorly and then had to steady, leaving her well back.

Betfair Hollywood Park
Royal Heroine (race 5)

Schiaparelli capped off a smashing Saturday for her sire, Ghostzapper, as she proved she could handle this longer trip while notching her first graded stakes win. She again used her speed, going right out to the lead. She set brisk splits while dogged by Egg Drop, opened up a bit of breathing room into the lane which helped her fend off Egg Drop’s rally in the final furlong. Egg Drop chased the winner from the start, didn’t accelerate as quickly into the lane but doggedly kept to her task to close the gap while easily best of the rest. My Gi Gi was last early and made a bit of a run into the lane though she was no threat. Stormy Lucy stalked the pace, stumbled badly when she appeared to clip heels coming into the lane, nearly going down.

Betfair Hollywood Park
Hollywood Gold Cup (race 9)

In what was likely the last Hollywood Gold Cup to be run here, Game On Dude had little trouble defending his title despite carrying high weight of 127 pounds, posting his 5th straight win. As usual it was his speed that proved lethal as he went right to the lead, was able to dictate tempo through slow splits, and had little trouble keeping rival Kettle Corn safe through the lane for the measured win. He figures to next go in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar Aug. 25, a race in which he ran 2nd last year. Kettle Corn was last early in the small field, came with a smart run turning for home, got within hailing distance of the eventual winner but was basically kept at arm’s length the rest of the way. Still, a very nice try as he was much the best of the others. Sky Kingdom stalked the winner early and weakened some to be 3rd. Clubhouse Ride stalked in 3rd, looked as though he might make a run at Game On Dude turning for home but faltered.