07/16/2012 2:40PM

Trip Notes: Man o' War Stakes, American Oaks, Delaware Oaks, and more


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Belmont Park
Man o’ War (race 8)

Point of Entry showed he may well belong with the big boys as he made it 3 straight and 4 of his last 5. He easily won the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland April 27, was freshened, came here for this tougher spot and stalked pacesetter Center Divider through snail-like splits, bided his time, pounced on that rival turning for home and bounced clear to win easily. Center Divider went right to the lead and was able to dawdle through slow splits which left him plenty of fuel for the final furlongs. He was unable to keep pace with the winner but stayed on well for 2nd. Tahoe Lake stalked in 3rd and stayed on decently but was chasing 2 fresh horses. Treasure Beach, the heavily favored Euro raider who was trying to emulate last year’s stablemate Cape Blanco by shipping here to take this, lagged back but never made a move. Surely the pace played against him but he showed no oomph and you have to wonder if he’s just not the same horse who in 2011 nearly won the Group 1 English Derby and did win the Group 1 Irish Derby and Grade 1 Secretariat.

Monmouth Park
Jersey Shore (race 10)

Well Spelled took a significant step forward and the result was his first stakes win. The son of Spellbinder sat last early while Rass Stone set a brisk pace, remained there to the far turn, swung wide into the lane and powered home for the win. Cape Cod Canal pressed the pace, moved to the lead into the lane and looked the. Scaramagna pressed the pace but couldn’t quite go with Cape Cod Canal in the lane, much less fend off the winner.

Delaware Park
Robert G. Dick Memorial (race 9)

Starformer moved back to turf and that did the trick. She won on turf at Gulfstream Feb. 20 but after 3 months off came back to try dirt at Churchill May 17 only to run poorly. She moved back to turf here, went right to the lead, was able to set slow splits though she was pressed by Namaskara, then kicked away into the lane to win smartly. Bubbly Jane sat back, came with a nice run, but the winner was already gone. Sikara stalked the pace, tried to make a run at the winner into the lane but couldn’t get to her.

Delaware Park
Delaware Oaks (race 10)

When on her game Grace Hall may be the top routing 3-year-old filly in the country and coming off a 3rd in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and a freshening the daughter of Empire Maker got back to that kind of form for an easy win here. She stalked the pace of Wicked Mizz, bided her time, moved up strongly while wide under her own energy turning for home, took command and won geared down. This wasn’t the strongest group, yes, but she won the right. Via Villaggio, coming off a rallying 3rd in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks, was behind the winner from the start, didn’t accelerate as readily as that rival into the lane but kept to her task well for 2nd, though she was never a threat to the winner. Amie’s Dini dogged pacesetter Wicked Mizz from the start, was no match for the top 2 in the lane but kept to her task to just get 3rd. Aubby K likewise stalked the pace, loomed a threat into the lane but flattened out.

Arlington Park
Modesty Handicap (race 6)

Romacaca showed plenty of courage as she bounced back to form. The mare, coming off a tiring 4th in the Grade 3 Violet at Monmouth May 28, again used her speed, dogging pacesetter She’s All In from the start. She took the lead into the lane, looked beaten when Snow Top Mountain came charging up to put her head in front at the eighth pole, but gamely rerallied to grab the lead again and actually seemed to be edging away a bit late. She’s now 5 for 7 here. Snow Top Mountain bided her time early, came with a rush in midstretch to grab the lead looking as though she was going to run off with it, only to have Romacaca re-rally and edge her late. Upperline stalked the pace, loomed a threat turning for home but finished evenly from there. Smart Sting lagged back and made decent headway though she was never a threat.

Arlington Park
American Derby (race 8)

Cozzetti stalked the pace, was in fairly tight in the lane, found a seam and pushed his way through for the gutty win. All Stormy set the pace, rebuffed challenges through the lane but finally succumbed to the winner in the final strides in a fine try. Skyring hounded All Stormy from the start and stayed on gamely to lose the blanket photo. Daddy Nose Best, the favorite, stalked the pace, kept to his task but just couldn’t get to the top 3. Could be he’s a tad overrated.

Arlington Park
Arlington Handicap (race 9)

Rahystrada won this in 2010 so it’s no shock he could win again, even as an 8-year-old, but it was the style he employed that was surprising. The veteran, usually a dyed-in-the-wool closer, this time went right out to the lead. He set solid splits and spurted away into the lane, which was the crucial move, as it gave him enough of a buffer to get to the line before hard-charging favorite Boisterous. He ran 4th in the 2010 Arlington Million and 5th last year and may well have earned another crack at that big event. Boisterous did nothing wrong. He was well back, still there to the top of the lane, swung very wide and blasted home only to just run out of ground. Mister Marti Gras stalked the pace, kept to his task but was no threat late in what was basically a 2-horse race in the lane. Sky Blazer lagged back but never mustered a run.

Arlington Park
Stars n’ Stripes (race 10)

Ioya Bigtime, coming off 3 dull outings this spring, looked like a different horse as he put up monster performance to post the huge 41-1 upset. The longshot went right out to press pacesetter Workin for Hops through modest splits  in the marathon, moved up to challenge down the backstretch, took over from there, opened up a commanding lead into the lane and had no trouble holding on even if they cut into his margin. Musketier lagged back while saving ground, came with a smart run through the lane, but the winner was already long gone. Suntracer likewise sat back, put in a solid rally, but couldn’t get to the winner.

Betfair Hollywood Park
Hollywood Juvenile (race 2)

A nice result for trainer John Sadler as he runs 1-2, capturing this with recent $50,000 claim Scherer Magic, and bursting the bubble of previous West Coast division leader Amarish who was inexplicably dull. Scherer Magic, a 7 1/2-length winner in his debut here last month, stalked the pace, was still 3rd in midstretch but surged home to take command and draw away. It’s worth noting 2-year-old filly Executiveprivilege ran faster (1:11.49 to 1:11.67) winning the Landaluce about an hour later on a main track that was playing slow. Sadler said his main goal may be the BC Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita this fall. Carson’s Crown, also trained by Sadler and also coming off a debut win, lagged back and finished well though the winner was clearly best. Just Call Me Al was further back and finished decently. Amarish, the heavy favorite, set the pace under pressure and gave way readily.

Betfair Hollywood Park
American Oaks (race 8)

Not that it was really needed, but Lady of Shamrock confirmed she’s the queen of the 3-year-old filly turfers out West with another stellar performance. Coming off a near-miss 2nd to My Gi Gi in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap, Lady of Shamrock notched her 4th stakes win and showed she’s top-class from one mile to 1 1/4 miles. As usual she bided her time toward the back as Euro import Nayarra set a very slow pace. That gal didn’t corner too well on the far turn, allowing Best Present Ever to move through to challenge. Lady of Shamrock stayed in behind Best Present Ever, kept to the inside, moved through a snug hole and edged clear. My Gi Gi validated her Honeymoon run as she sat back near, didn’t accelerate as quickly into the lane but kept to her task and was a clear 2nd. Best Present Ever stalked, moved to the lead into the lane, still had the lead at the eighth pole but couldn’t match the winner and then tired a bit and was unable to fend off My Gi Gi. Miss Cato, a Euro raider, pressed fellow Euro Nayarra and weakened. Colonial Flag, the 2nd choice, stalked, loomed a threat on the far turn but gave way readily.

Betfair Hollywood Park
A Gleam Handicap (race 9)

Rumors of Switch’s demise were apparently greatly exaggerated as she got back on track and tossed her hat in the ring for the Grade 1 BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in the fall, a race in which she’s run 2nd the past 2 years. After 2 dull outings this year off a layoff she looked like her old self, sitting last early, remaining well back to the far turn, where she began her run, which swept her past all her rivals to win going away. Her win also capped a huge day for trainer John Sadler who swept the 3 graded stakes on the card. Sugarinthemorning stalked the pace of Izzy Rules, moved up to challenge for the lead into the lane as if she might win, but then had no answer for the winner’s charge while clear best of the rest. Glamorista sat back and finished decently though she was no match for Switch in the lane. Izzy Rules set the pace under pressure and weakened. Not only did the duel hurt but seven furlongsmay be beyond her scope, at least at this level.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Betfair Hollywood Park
Sunset Handicap (race 3)

An already small field (5) was decimated further by the scratch of longshot Renegade Storm. Dhaamer had no trouble validating his status as the heavy favorite. An easy winner of the 12-furlong Round Table here May 13, he bided his time early in last in the small field while the mare Quaintly set a dawdling pace. He moved up easily on the far turn, had no trouble grabbing command into the lane, and drew off to win geared down. He’s no doubt the best stayer out West. Romp stalked the pace in 3rd, made a nice run into the lane but was no match for the winner while clearly 2nd best. Quaintly set the pace but weakened once passed. Juniper Pass dogged Quaintly from the start but gave way readily when the real racing began. He’s not the same horse who won 2 Grade 2’s in 2011.