05/06/2013 9:18AM

Trip Notes: Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, and more


Friday, May 3, 2013

La Troienne (race 6)

Authenticity continued her ascent in the distaff division as she notched her first graded win and beat a nice bunch in doing so. Previously best known as workmate for crack 3-year-old Verrazano, she dueled early inside with On Fire Baby through slow splits, looked beat in midstretch when that foe pushed past but rerallied gamely to edge that stubborn foe. With Royal Delta licking her wounds from her Dubai loss and My Miss Aurelia sidelined as well, the division isn’t as locked down at the top as it might otherwise be. On Fire Baby, who ran splendidly to win the Grade 1 Apple Blossom a few weeks ago off a long layoff, didn’t bounce and validated that performance with another strong run here. She dueled early with the winner, seemed to have the edge in midstretch, but couldn’t quite outdo that foe late while clear the best of the rest. Believe You Can, winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks here last year and favored off 2 romping wins at Fair Grounds, was jostled and bothered at the start, bided her time in 4th, made a threatening move into the lane but couldn’t sustain it. She was also chasing 2 girls who had plenty left in the tank after setting a slow pace. More Chocolate, the Southern California raider, stalked the pace, looked threatening on the far turn but flattened out.

Kentucky Oaks (race 11)

Princess of Sylmar almost didn’t go in this race as after losing in New York and reportedly not training all that great. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he might hold her out, and last month her connections had mentioned they were more interested in the CCA Oaks and Alabama than this race. Good move to leave her in. She bided her time early, commenced her run down the backside, continued this long sustained move as she swung out into the lane and gradually wore down a stubborn Beholder. Surely the CCA Oaks and Alabama are in her summer docket. Beholder, the 2-year-old filly champ, did everything right, running a super race in defeat, particularly after some pre-race antics. She was wound up in the post parade and in the walk to the gate reared and dumped rider Gomez. Once to the gate she behaved perfectly and broke well. She dogged pacesetter Midnight Lucky through brisk splits, pounced on that foe into the lane, moved past that foe and looked the winner in midstretch but couldn’t quite fend off Princess of Sylmar. Her prerace antics likely didn’t cost her the race, but they couldn’t have helped. Unlimited Budget stalked the leaders, kept on doggedly in a fine try and just held 3rd over stablemate and favorite Dreaming of Julia while tasting defeat for the first time. Dreaming of Julia got knocked around at the start to get away slowly, got shuffled back on the first turn, started to move closer down the backstretch but had to tap the brakes a couple times to lose her momentum, swung out and was asked for run on the far turn and closed very nicely but it was far too late. Yes, it was a troubled trip but not nearly the nightmare trip some would have you believe. All that talk of how she should run in the Derby, much less could win it, off just one big race at Gulfstream seems silly now. Her finish did give trainer Todd Pletcher a terrific 1-2-4 result. Midnight Lucky outbroke Beholder, set a solid pace while under pressure, kicked for home but got weary in the lane. This may have all been a bit too much too soon. Cross Hatches sat back, was wide down the backstretch as she tried to move closer but then lacked the needed punch.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fort Marcy (race 7)

Lubash showed he’s still got what it takes and can handle graded stakes company. He bided his time in 5th, edged closer turning for home, moved up to challenge pacesetter King Kreesa into the lane, got the better of that foe and dug in to keep a game Bombaguia at bay in the final yards, setting a stakes record in the process. This doesn’t mean he’s ready for Point of Entry or anything like that, but shows he can do some damage in the right spot. Despite beating graded stakes foes he’ll reportedly next target New York-breds in the Kingston here June 1. Bombaguia stalked in 3rd, moved up to challenge into the lane, doggedly kept after the winner but just couldn’t quite get to him. King Kreesa set a fast pace, battled back when hooked into the lane but faltered just a bit in the final half-furlong. Speaking of Which, the favorite after being Grade 1-placed last year in Southern California and working so well for this return, never got involved. Trainer Christophe Clement (who also trains the winner) blamed himself, saying the race was too short for Speaking of Which.

Beaugay (race 9)

Hessonite has made her name dominating New York-breds but by virtue of a smart win here she looks ready to make some noise vs. graded company. The daughter of Freud (sired both staeks winners on the card) stalked in 3rd while saving ground, was urged to start her run turning for home, had to wait for room, angled out sharply when it materialized and surged past her rivals to win going away. Nice stuff. The Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay May 25 could be next, or if they need more time the Mt. Vernon (for New York-breds) June 1 is there for the taking. Peace Preserver lagged back, was asked for her run into the lane and finished well though she couldn’t match the winner. Dream Peace, the heavy favorite after being 3-time Grade 1-placed last year and making her first start since October, sat 4th, made a nice run into the lane and looked the winner when she grabbed the lead in midstretch but then flattened out and was outfinished by the top 2. She very much ran like a horse who needed the race and could still be plenty scary in a race like the Grade 2 New York here June 29.

Twin Spires Turf Sprint (race 6)

Rain started early on the card and the turf was listed as good for this. Berlino Di Tiger, proven on non-firm turf in his native Brazil, relished the footing as he and Southern Dude shot out to be clear early leaders. Berlino Di Tiger got the better of that rival turning into the lane and stayed on gamely get to the line before hard-charging veteran Chamberlain Bridge. Chamberlain Bridge broke a bit slowly then had to steady but bided his time 4th before putting in a strong rally to just miss. Southern Dude dueled early with the winner, kept at that foe to midstretch before weakening a bit in the final furlong. Regally Ready, who once would have humbled these, stalked the pace and stayed on evenly. Icon Ike, the favorite off a big turf stakes win at Fair Grounds, lagged back early as is his custom but never made a move.

Humana Distaff (race 7)

Aubby K was coming off a big win in the Grade 2 Inside Information at Gulfstream, and she validated that form and showed she indeed is a horse to be reckoned with in the distaff sprint division. She relished the sloppy (sealed) footing as she chased early leader Jamaican Smoke, moved up nicely turning for home, had no trouble going past that rival into the lane to grab the lead and slowly edged away. Burban, 6th to Aubby K in the Inside Information before winning a stakes at Aqueduct, stalked the pace, steadily advanced, briefly looked a threat to the winner into the lane but was unable to make the needed impact in the final furlong. Holiday Soiree sat midpack and finished decently though she was never a threat to the winner. Rumor, a Southern California invader, was slow into stride, pitched very wide on the far turn and could make only minimal headway.

Distaff Turf Mile (race 8)

Race complexion may have changed some as likely favorite Marketing Mix scratched after the rains hit. Stephanie’s Kitten, making her first start since last October, was more than ready off the bench and relished the non-firm turf as she beat a nice bunch. She was slow into stride early, content to sit last. She bided her time, was still well back turning for home, swung very wide into the lane for clear sailing and powered home to grab the lead in midstretch and had to keep to it to fend off hard-trying Hungry Island. That gal, the defending champ, sat back in 6th while Frontside set a modest pace, was still 6th turning for home when swinging out to make her run, had to alter her path when Daisy Devine drifted out in front of her but kept on strongly between horses to just miss in a fine try. Daisy Devine stalked the pace, moved up to challenge into the lane but drifted out some as she tired a bit. Frontside set the pace while being chased by Stopshoppingmaria and tired from those efforts.

Churchill Downs (race 9)

Delaunay made it 6 straight wins and 8 of his last 9 with an impressive victory that affirms he belongs in the conversation regarding the game’s top sprinter. While he’d been easily posting stakes wins at Fair Grounds and Louisiana Downs, the former $40,000 claimer still had a lot of non-believers. That isn’t the case any longer. He dogged champion sprinter Trinniberg through brisk splits while staying out in the clear, surged past that foe into the lane, quickly opened up a commanding lead and won easily. He’s the real deal and it’s going to take a big sprint game to topple him. Pass the Dice lagged well back early and came with an energetic run, though he was never really on the winner’s radar. He was much the best of the rest. Laurie’s Rocket stalked the pace, tried to make a run into the lane, was no threat but kept on decently to hold 3rd. Trinniberg set the pace under pressure from Delauney but gave way once headed. You have to wonder if that Dubai trip took more out of him than originally though. It’s happened before. Unbridled’s Note got bumped at the start, made a mild move going to the far turn but then fell away in a rare dull effort.

Woodford Reserve (race 10)

Much anticipated duel between Horse of the Year Wise Dan and top-class Point of Entry will have to wait as the rains made the course soggy and Point of Entry scratched (will point for Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes undercard June 8). And, as expected, Wise Dan dominated. He stalked while Silver Max and Optimizer set the pace. He moved up easily outside those 2 while under a hand ride, moved past while still under a hand ride, was then asked for run and drew away to win easily. He’s a gem and can produce top-class efforts on any footing. He may follow the same path as last year to the Breeders’ Cup meaning next may be the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga Aug. 10, then the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile. Optimizer pressed Silver Max from the start, moved up to challenge that foe turning into the lane as Wise Dan came on the scene, was no match for Wise Dan but kept on well for 2nd. Middie was well back early and finished full of run, though it was far too late to scare the winner. Slim Shadey, 2nd in this last year, didn’t show his usual speed and never got involved. He may not have cared for the tough course conditions. Same with fellow Southern California raider Jeranimo, who was coming off strong races and a freshening but who never picked up a foot at any point and seemed to struggle over the going.

Kentucky Derby (race 11)

It didn’t matter the track was goo or the opposition was tough or he was far back early - Orb proved without a doubt to be the class of this crop with a powerful victory that figures to immediately get the Triple Crown talk brewing. Under a beautiful ride by Joel Rosario, Orb broke decently and was content to lag well back, much further back than expected. That was likely a function of a suicide pace set by Palace Malice and a few others. Orb edged closer down the backside, commenced his run while staying wide and in the clear on the far turn and continued home smartly to roll past midstretch leader Normandy Invasion and keep a couple closers at bay. On to Pimlico. Golden Soul, a big longshot with only a maiden win to his credit, lagged well back, made a strong run along the inside, swung out into the lane, briefly looking a threat to the winner but in the end was unable to get to him. He’ll likely pass the Preakness and eye the Belmont. Revolutionary, as expected under Borel, saved ground while sitting well back early. He made a long, sustained run while hugging the fence but never really appeared a threat to the winner. Normandy Invasion sat midpack, moved closer on the turn, swung wide to shoot past the tiring speedsters to look very dangerous, but was unable to contend with Orb when tackled by that rival and then seemed to get a little weary late, just losing 3rd in the final yards. It’s possible moving so early to the lead is what left him low on fuel come the final half-furlong. He almost certainly will not go to the Preakness. The Travers at Saratoga is his main summer target. Mylute was well back and closed nicely. Itsmyluckyday seemed in a good spot midpack, moved closer down the backside but then gave way. He might go to Pimlico. The hot pace doomed anyone who was anywhere close to the pace as Palace Malice, Verrazano, Goldencents and Vyjack all paid the price for setting/being near such hot splits. Vyjack didn’t help his cause as he was a bit rambunctious in the post parade. He kicked out and struck the rail, though that didn’t seem the reason for his severe fade as much as pressing the hot pace was. Todd Pletcher said none of his 5 will go in the Preakness, that Revolutionary and maybe Overanalyze were Belmont bound, and that Verrazano exited with a gash on his left hock as he may have been stepped on. Goldencents may go to Pimlico.

Betfair at Hollywood
Mervin LeRoy Handicap (race 10)

With Game On Dude the biggest fish in the pond known as the Southern California handicap division, Bob Baffert may still have a real nice No. 2 in Liaison, as the colt notched a 2nd straight win. His brightest moment came here when he won the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity in 2011, and while he ran some decent races in 2012 he failed to win in 8 starts. Off the bench he beat many of these in the Santana Mile at Santa Anita March 31 and validated that here with another smart win. He dogged Blueskiesnrainbows, who set a moderate pace, moved up to challenge that foe on the turn, took over, opened up and wasn’t really in any danger the rest of the way. The Grade 2 Californian here June 1 figures next, though that race may also lure Game On Dude. Kettle Corn was slow into stride, sat last, remained there to the top of the lane before finishing smartly, though he never appeared a threat to catch the winner. Guilt Trip stalked the pace but lacked the needed punch. Blueskiesnrainbows, the favorite, set the pace under pressure from Liaison and weakened once headed. Midnight Transfer lagged back, started what appeared to be a run turning for home but then came up empty in a disappointing run.