10/30/2017 10:02AM

Trip Notes for October 28-29: Bold Ruler, Turnback the Alarm, Autumn Miss

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Oct. 28

Belmont
Athenia (race 7)

COMMENT: Off Limits continued her ascent, and while this wasn’t as easy as her romp in the Grade 3 Noble Damsel here Sept. 23, it was still pretty nice. A winner now of 4 of her last 5, Off Limits stalked in fourth as longshot Juno shot out to a clear early lead, setting modest splits. Off Limits remained in stalking mode to the far turn, advanced as the field moved in on the tiring pacesetter, remained wide and in the clear, took command while still under a hand ride in midstretch, and kept My Impression at bay. She does seem to have a habit of waiting on horses and that may have been what led to her diminishing winning margin. The way she’s developing, and with so many of trainer Chad Brown’s turf distaffers likely heading off to the breeding shed, this mare could be in line for a shot at something like the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar Nov. 26. My Impression was well regarded enough to earn a shot at the Grade 1 Diana July 22, but could manage only sixth in that very tough spot. However, she dropped and won a stakes on Kentucky Downs turf Sept. 6 and showed she’s the real deal here. She stalked the pace alongside the eventual winner, didn’t accelerate as quickly or as strongly as that rival into the lane, but got going nicely in the final half-furlong to give the winner a scare. Elysea’s World, also from the Brown barn, lagged well back early, swung wide into the lane and finished well for third, though she was never a danger to the top two. Time and Motion, a Grade 1 winner just over a year ago as a 3-year-old but winless since, was coming off a fourth to Off Limits in the Noble Damsel. She sat midpack just behind the eventual winner, moved out into the lane, loomed a threat by midstretch, but couldn’t sustain her run. It just seems this caliber is a bit too much for her at this stage of the game.

Belmont
Turnback the Alarm (race 8)

COMMENT: Eskenformoney, who reportedly goes off to the breeding shed now, went out a winner. She bided her time early as 7-10 favorite Miss Sky Warrior set a strong pace. Eskenformoney steadily advanced, came out into the lane, and reeled in leader Verve’s Tale in the final strides. Verve’s Tale, a neck behind Eskenformoney when fourth in the Grade 1 Beldame here last time out Sept. 30, was stalked the pace, surged past a tiring Miss Sky Warrior into the lane, opened up a clear lead as if going on to victory, but couldn’t fend off the winner while much the best of the rest. Birdatthewire raced with the eventual winner from the start, didn’t accelerate as early or as strongly but got going well enough to get third. Miss Sky Warrior, making her first start since she dueled and gave way readily to finish eighth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks May 5, took pressure from A Place to Shine, relented once headed into the lane, and gave way. This was a bit disappointing, but she was dealing with the long layoff, and the duel didn’t help.

Belmont
Bold Ruler (race 9)

COMMENT: Tom’s Ready has been knocking heads with many of the best sprinters/milers in the business, and he used his customary strong late run to get the win. He sat last early as Green Gratto set a strong pace under pressure from Awesome Banner. He remained well back to the far turn, swung very wide into the lane, and blasted home to roll past all his rivals. This could earn him another shot at the big boys in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Dec. 2. Stallwalkin’ Dude, the defending champ and coming off a third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh here Sept. 30, lagged back, swung wide into the lane, surged to a clear lead by midstretch looking very much the winner, only to get nailed late by Tom’s Ready. He just held on for second from a rallying Beasley. Beasley, stepping up off an optional-claiming win here Sept. 30, sat midpack, tried to rally with Stallwalkin’ Dude into the lane, couldn’t keep up with that foe but found his best stride late and finished well. Seymourdini, coming off three straight double-digit-length wins over lesser, lagged back while wide, was asked for run on the far turn, didn’t respond right away but found some energy in the lane, cut down to the inside, and finished well. The Cigar Mile has reportedly been the plan for him as well. Divining Rod stalked the pace but was basically one-paced throughout. He ran second in last year’s Cigar Mile, so that race could be on his radar again. Mr. Crow, monster winner over lesser in a couple Saratoga starts but then sixth in the Vosburgh, stalked the pace but gave way when it mattered. He may have been asked to do too much too soon in his career, or he may simply be a Saratoga specialist.

Keeneland
Fayette (race 9)

COMMENT: Much of the focus here had been on older horses Neolithic and Honorable Duty and crack 3-year-olds McCraken and Giuseppe the Great, but it was upstart The Player who stepped up his game and stole the show in a race run on a sloppy (sealed) main track, which may have had something to do with the result. Coming off a third in the Grade 3 Ack Ack here Sept. 30, The Player sat second as Neolithic set the pace, moved up to challenge the pacesetter at the top of the lane, and drew off for the easy win. The Grade 1 Clark here Nov. 24 may be next. Neolithic bounced out to a clear lead while setting a decent pace, battled back when hooked by the winner into the lane, and stayed on to be second, far clear of the rest in what was a two-horse race. The Clark could be on his radar as well. McCraken, a Grade 1-placed 3-year-old who was facing elders for the first time, bided his time and came with a mild run. He didn’t seem to thrive in the going. Honorable Duty, coming off a romping win in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic here Sept. 30, was fourth early as the 7-5 favorite, shuffled back to last while between foes going down the backstretch, made some headway going to the far turn, but then quickly backed out of it. He apparently didn’t like the footing.

Santa Anita
Twilight Derby (race 9)

COMMENT: Sharp Samurai came here sharp indeed, having won his last three. Today he stramped himself one of the prime contenders for the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar Nov. 25 and a horse to watch come 2018. He dueled with Profiteer on the lead while on the inside, got the better of that foe turning for home, opened up, and didn’t have a nervous moment thereafter. The top three finished in a repeat of the Del Mar Derby, with Big Score and Bowies finishing second and third. Big Score sat just behind the eventual winner while saving ground, came out to try and make a run, kept after the winner, but was no match. The Hollywood Derby is still on his radar. Bowies Hero stalked while between horses, pitched out on the far turn, and couldn’t quite get to the runner-up. Channel Maker did the best of the invaders. He was away slowly to be last early, was still well back coming into the lane, finally found his best stride, and nearly got up for third.

Oct. 29

Santa Anita
Autumn Miss (race 9)

COMMENT: Earlier this summer Lull invaded from the East Coast and ran second in the Grade 2 San Clemente at Del Mar. She went back to Kentucky, won a stakes at Kentucky Downs, ran third in a Grade 3 at Keeneland, and came back here to woin this. Lull sat second behind early longshot pacesetter Almost Carla, who set fast splits. Lull took command from that tiring rival coming into the lane, and drew off to win easily. She could be a 4-year-old to watch next season. Chocolate Coated, coming off a monster win on this course Oct. 6, sat midpack to midstretch and finished with good energy to get up for second. Storm the Hill, who beat many of these in the Unzip Me down the hill here Sept. 30, raced with Chocolate Coated from the start, came with a nice run in the lane, but couldn’t fend off Chocolate Coated for second. Tapped, who finished full of run to be a second to Storm the Hill in the Unzip Me, was far back early, but finished full of run to just miss second. She certainly has acceleration but her lack of speed has been leaving her with too much to do. Meadowsweet, who had a clear lead in midstretch in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last time out Aug. 19 before ending up fifth, sat midpack, started a run into the lane along the rail, had to steady in midstretch when in tight, found a lane, but was unable to get going again. Miss Southern Miss, fifth in the Unzip Me, her first start in almost eight months, was away slowly to be well back from the start and never made a move while wide.