05/21/2012 11:43AM

Trip Notes: Preakness Stakes, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and more

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Pimlico
Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (race 10)

Trainer Pletcher opted to give In Lingerie more time between starts by skipping the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and his move paid off. In Lingerie stumbled badly at the start and grabbed a quarter, which forced her to sit back off the modest pace of favorite Mamma Kimbo. She bided her time, steadily advanced, moved up on the turn, pounced on that tiring leader into the lane, got the better of Wildcat’s Smile and held off extremely unlucky stablemate Disposablepleasure to lead a 1-2 finish for Pletcher. She’s bred to run all day so big races like the Mother Goose, CCA Oaks and Alabama figure on her docket. Disposablepleasure may actually have been best. She hugged the rail while sitting midpack, moved up nicely behind Mamma Kimbo going to the far turn, had to check, started to move between horses into the lane and had to check again, veered down inside a tiring Mamma Kimbo, then swung out and finished well but the damage was done. By Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, she should also enjoy the added ground of the big upcoming 3-year-old filly races. Wildcat’s Smile stalked the pace, moved up inside the faltering Mamma Kimbo into the lane to challenge with In Lingerie but couldn’t keep up in the final half-furlong. Mamma Kimbo got the lead, set her pace but got weakened when it mattered.

Pimlico
Pimlico Special (race 12)

Alternation stalked the pace in 3rd, went after pacesetter Endorsement into the lane, got the better of that rival in the final furlong but was then tackled by a hard-charging Nehro and just got to the line a desperate nose in front. Nehro, 2nd in last year’s Kentucky Derby but no match for Alternation when 6th to that foe in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap April 14, ran much better today. He bided his time, stayed wide and in the clear and finished full of run to just miss. Endorsement set the pace, was pressured early by Yawanna Twist, opened up a clear lead going down the backside, was still clear into the lane and in midstretch but couldn’t finish with the top 2 late. Mission Impazible, the favorite, was well back, came with a smart run into the lane but didn’t really sustain it. Hymn Book, winner of the Grade 1 Donn and 4th in the Grade 2 Oaklawn, was last much of the way and could make only modest headway in a disappointing outing. After all, he got a brisk pace to go after.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pimlico
Gallorette Handicap (race 3)

Zagora looked every bit back on track with a powerful victory here, again stamping herself among the division elite. After 2 big Grade 3 wins to start the year she was no factor when well back behind a slow pace in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland April 14. She almost got stuck in a similar spot here as she broke slowly. She remained well back early while Speak Easy Gal set modest splits, steadily advanced down the backside to the far turn, surged through inside and drew away to win easily. Speak Easy Gal broke sharply and as usual went to the lead. She set solid splits while being pressured by Laughing, stubbornly held the lead into the lane but had no answer for the winner’s charge while gamely persevering to hold 2nd. Laughing dogged Speak Easy Gal from the start but just couldn’t get to her, and certainly couldn’t finish with Zagora.

Pimlico
Maryland Sprint Handicap (race 8)

Hamazing Destiny may not be a Grade 1 type any but he showed here that in the right spot he can still do some damage as he notched his first win since September 2010. Under a superb ride by Nakatani he stalked the hot pace of duelers Immortal Eyes and Diski Dance, moved up nicely to their outside turning for home, edged clear and had more than enough to keep Bandbox at bay. Bandbox bided his time a few lengths off that hot, swung wide and came with a nice run but just couldn’t quite get to the winner. Action Andy got a similar trip and stayed on decently. Diski Dance dueled with Immortal Eyes, 2nd in this last year, and both paid the price.

Pimlico
DuPont Distaff (race 10)

Awesomemundo looks like a comer for Baffert as the daughter of Grade 1 BC Classic hero Awesome Again had to win a tough battle and then survive a claim of foul. Sent off the heavy favorite she got squeezed back at the start to be well back early, steadily improved her position, went after Love and Pride into the lane, engaged that foe in a long duel, bumped with Love and Pride but doggedly kept to her task to get the nod. She may be ready for deeper waters. Love and Pride broke a step slow, was content to sit behind Canadian Mistress early, took over pace duties going to the far turn, opened up some into the lane, battled back gamely when engaged by Awesomemundo, bumped with that foe but kept on gamely to just miss. The stewards disallowed her rider’s claim of foul as contact between the 2 seemed more the fault of Love and Pride who shifted out some. Catch a Thief sat midpack and made decent headway but was no real threat in what was basically a 2-horse race in the lane. Absinthe Minded, good enough to be 2nd in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, stalked the pace but gave way badly to finish last meaning she’s suddenly put up 2 dull outings since. Could be she’s in need of a break.

Pimlico
Dixie Stakes (race 11)

Hudson Steele continued his ascent as he made it 4 wins in last 5 starts and his first graded stakes win. As the tepid favorite he stalked the pace while saving ground, moved off the fence turning for home, surged to a clear lead by midstretch and didn’t have a nervous moment thereafter. Humble and Hungry, previously 4th to Hudson Steel in the Henry Clark here April 24, sat midpack and came with a steady run though he never really scared the winner. Forte Dei Marmi, coming off a game allowance win at Keeneland last month, was last early, still last on the far turn, swung very wide into the lane and finished with gusto but had left himself far too much to do. Casino Host lagged back, swung wide into the lane, got shuffled back in early stretch but came on again to finish well.

Pimlico
Preakness Stakes (race 12)

On to New York for a shot at the Triple Crown. I’ll Have Another validated his Ky. Derby win, overcoming an incredibly stubborn foe in Bodemeister. He showed enough tactical speed to sit a few lengths off Bodemeister’s modest pace, was asked to go after that foe turning for home, seemed in a bit of trouble though as Bodemeister was still clear and still running but he doggedly kept to his task and reel in that rival in the final yards. No doubt now who the top 3-year-old is. Bodemeister did everything right. He broke sharply but wasn’t as speed-crazy as in the Derby. He had the lead, was able to set realistic splits, kicked clear turning for home, looked long gone but just couldn’t fend off the winner, and the 2 finished far clear of the rest. In fact, Beyerwise he ran the same super race as he did winning the Arkansas Derby – I’ll Have Another just ran a bit better. Creative Cause again ran well but may simply be the West’s 3rd best 3-year-old. He stalked Bodemeister from the start, tried to go after that foe turning for home but couldn’t get to him, couldn’t rally with I’ll Have Another and kept on well to hold 3rd.

Arlington
Hanshin Cup (race 9)

Havelock, who had previously done all his best work on turf, showed his synthetic ability while posting the upset. He broke decently to be midpack early but got shuffled back to last going down the backstretch. He steadily advanced from there, doggedly went after clear leader Lonesome Street in the lane and just got up in the final strides. Lonesome Street, the favorite off a big win in the Grade 2 Commonwealth at Keeneland last month, stalked the early pace, took over down the backstretch, opened up into the lane as if he was going to win but just got a bit weary late and couldn’t quite fend off the winner. Scotus, going for a 3rd straight win, stalked in 4th, seemed done when Lonesome Street kicked away into the lane but kept to his task well to miss by just 2 necks.

Hollywood Park
Railbird Stakes (race 3)

One of the favorites, Grade 1 winner Killer Graces, was scratched. Via Villaggio moved back to synthetic and to sprinting and it paid off as she notched her first stakes win. She was 3rd early while 1-20 favorite Sister Moon set a solid pace, moved up going to the far turn to pressure that foe, challenged her along the inside into the lane and after a long stretch battle got the better of that rival and edged away. Sister Moon set the pace while under constant pressure, battled back gamely when hooked by the eventual winner but just couldn’t keep up late while much the best of the rest. Dijarvo dogged Sister  Moon early but couldn’t keep pace with the top 2 in the lane.

Hollywood Park
Marjorie Everett Handicap (race 10)

Include Me Out backed up her big wins in the Grade 2 La Canada and Grade 1 Santa Margarita, likely stamping herself the West’s top distaffer along with Plum Pretty. She dogged pacesetter Ellafitz from the start, took over from that rival into the lane, edged away and gamely kept that stubborn rival at bay. Certainly off this there’s every reason to expect her to reappear in the Grade 1 Vanity here June 16. Ellafitz, who rattled off 3 straight front-running wins before fizzling in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita, got back on track. She showed her good speed to set the pace and battled back gamely when hooked by the winner. Caelis sat 4th, kept to her task decently but was never really a threat. Zazu, making her first start of the year after being injured after winning the Grade 1 Lady’s Secret last Oct. 1, stalked the pace while seemingly in good position but never made a move and actually weakened a bit late. Certainly she needed this outing.