05/20/2013 12:37PM

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


Friday, May 17, 2013

Black-Eyed Susan (race 10)

Fiftyshadesofhay further flattered the form of 2-year-old filly champ and Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks runner-up Beholder as after chasing that gal in 2 Grade 1’s out West she shipped here and notched her first Grade 2 win. She accomplished it with a change of tactics and change of equipment. Usually one to show tactical speed and with blinkers added, she instead settled well back. She moved off the inside, was asked for run turning for home, had to swerve at avoid clipping the heels of Toasting into the lane but continued her run after clear leader Marathon Lady and was able to catch that foe and edge past late. Trainer Bob Baffert had intended for her to go the Kentucky Oaks but she fell ill and missed some time. Obviously she’s over that. She may next go in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks June 22 at Hollywood with her main summer target the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga. Marathon Lady did everything right and just missed in a tough loss. She stalked the pace, surged to the lead into the lane, opened up a big lead by midstretch and looked the winner until Fiftyshadesofhay nailed her late. She finished well clear of the rest. The Grade 3 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows June 29 could be next. Toasting dogged pacesetter Maracuya, moved up to challenge on the turn, was no match for the top 2 in the lane but plugged along well for 3rd. Emollient, romping 9-length winner of the Grade 1 Ashland who skipped the Kentucky Oaks to go here instead, stumbled significantly at the start to be well back, and then never really got involved. Could be she’s just not as effective on dirt, and in fact her trainer Bill Mott said she’ll likely return to turf.

Pimlico Special (race 12)

Last Gunfighter continued his ascent, notching his 6th straight win and proving he’s not just a New York horse. The son of First Samurai, coming off a Grade 3 win on Aqueduct’s inner 2 months ago, was 3rd early while Eighttofasttocatch was out on a clear lead. He moved into 2nd going down the backstretch, was content to sit there to the top of the lane, was asked to go after that rival, moved past that foe and drew off to win easily. He may not be ready to the best of the handicap division but this showed he can surely do some damage in the right spot. Eighttofasttocatch bounced right out to a clear lead, was still clear into the lane, tried to battle back when hooked by the winner, was no match for that foe but stayed on well to be much the best of the rest (9 1/4 lengths clear of 3rd). Richard’s Kid, the old class horse, lagged back as is his custom and plugged along to get 3rd though he was never really involved as this was a 2-horse race from the far turn to the line.

Satuday, May 18, 2013

Vagrancy (race 9)

Glorious View continued her ascent as she stepped up in class and prevailed again, winning her 4th straight. Whereas she dominated rivals in her prior wins, this time she had to show some fight – and she was up to the task. From her rail slot she again used her speed, going right to the lead. However, she was dogged early by Spectacular Sky, dispatched with that rival turning for home but was immediately tackled by Fantasy of Flight, whom she gamely rebuffed through the lane. In fact, she actually edged away a bit late. It took a while for her to figure things out, but now that she has she looks ready to move up further. A race like the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga in the summer may be her primary goal, and with Groupie Doll yet to return there’s no significant power atop the distaff sprint division to fear. Fantasy of Flight stalked the pace, came with a strong run into the lane, looking as though she might just go right on past Glorious View, but was unable to get past that foe and was actually losing a bit of ground in the final strides. Withgreatpleasure broke slowly to be last, was still last going to the far turn, swung wide into the lane and finished decently but was never really a threat. Miss d’Oro sat back, made a mild bid into the lane but flattened out.

Red Bank (race 11)

Za Approval notched his 2nd straight Grade 3 win and showed again that while he can’t handle the turf big boys he can certainly do some damage in the right spots. Sent off the 9-10 favorite after being freshened after winning Gulfstream’s Grade 3 Appleton March 30, he bided his time early, was still well back turning for home, stayed inside, surged through between rivals to get up in the final yards. Tune Me In sat 2nd, dogging pacesetter Two Notch Road, took over from that rival on the turf, gamely rebuffed challenges to hold the lead to deep stretch, but couldn’t fend off the winner’s charge. Bad Debt was just in front of the winner early, came with a nice run into the lane, was still in front of Za Approval coming into the final furlong but couldn’t quite finish with that foe. Two Notch Road, making his first start since October 2010, set a solid pace and understandably tired late. Still, he stayed on for 5th, so that was a pretty nice run all things considered.

Allaire Dupont Distaff (race 8)

Rain started coming down as horses made their way onto the track. Summer Applause, the favorite, appreciated the class drop and got a dream trip. She last ran 4th in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom and here she stalked pacesetter Daydream Gracie through very slow splits, appeared in trouble when Moon Philly surged between she and Daydream Gracie to grab the lead going into the far turn, gamely accelerated to go with that rival, got the better of her into the lane and stayed on gamely to keep hard-trying Sea Island at bay. Sea Island sat just a couple lengths off the slow pace while staying to the outside, doggedly went after the leaders turning for home, kept to her task nicely but just couldn’t get to Summer Applause. Brushed by a Star was last early, though not too far away. She moved closer on the turf, swung wide into the lane and kept on for 3rd but was never really a threat. With the pace scenario she was up against it as this was run very much like a turf race. Moon Philly bobbled at the start but got into position just behind Daydream Gracie while hugging the rail, made an aggressive move to surge through between Daydream Gracie and Summer Applause going into the far turn to grab the lead, but that move may have used up too much fuel as she weakened in the lane.

Gallorette (race 9)

Pianist was no match for Centre Court, likely the country’s top grass distaffer, in the Grade 2 Honey Fox at Gulfstream over 2 months ago, but a freshening, a drop and perfect trip under jockey Mike Smith produced her first graded stakes win. She went right out to the lead, set a solid pace while under modest pressure, kicked clear into the lane and really didn’t have a worry as she finished strongly. This may mean she’s ready to take another swing at Centre Court. Hard Not to Like, also appreciated getting away from Centre Court (ran 9th to that gal in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley last month). She sat a couple lengths behind the winner while hugging the fence, moved closer turning for home, came off the rail once straightened away, gamely chased the winner but was really no match in what was still a nice run. Appealing Cat sat back with favorite Samitar while saving ground and finished nicely, though she was never a threat. Samitar, who was dropping after 3 Grade 1’s and a Grade 2, lagged back as is her custom, came under a ride on the far turn, swung out into the lane but never really mustered a run in a disappointing outing.

Maryland Sprint Handicap (race 10)

Sage Valley showed big-time potential last fall when he posted 3 straight wins in New York, 2 of them earning triple-digit Beyers, 1 of those a stakes win. He hadn’t been seen for over 6 months due to shin problems, but that didn’t matter as he came back firing and probably earned a shot at the deeper end of the sprint pool next time. From his outside post he stalked the pace, moved up smartly to reach contention while staying outside on the turn, went after Hardened Wildcat into the lane, took command from that rival by midstretch and drew away to win nicely. Hardened Wildcat was a bit slow away from the gate, was last going down the backstretch, came with a smart run into the lane to briefly grab the lead, battled back when hooked and passed by the winner but just couldn’t stay with him while clearly best of the others. Laurie’s Rocket lagged back, swung out turning for home and finished decently though he was never a threat to the top 2. Manito opened up early while setting a brisk pace but weakened from those efforts.

Dixie (race 11)

Skyring may be an emerging horse-for-course as the son of grass champ English Channel posted his 2nd win in as many starts on this turf course. He won the James Murphy on this course on Preakness Day last year but hadn’t won since. However, the return to this place did the trick. He used his speed, going right out to the lead. He set modest fractions while under modest pressure from Humble and Hungry, rebuffed that foe turning for home, opened up into the lane and continued on gamely to win. It didn’t hurt that last time out he was 4th in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark behind Horse of the Year Wise Dan and top-class turfers Data Link and Mr. Commons – he faced no one like that here. The 2 graded stakes run on turf today were both won wire to wire. Willcox Inn sat midpack, swung wide into the lane, finished strongly but just couldn’t quite get to the winner. Optimizer stalked the pace and stayed on decently. His run gave Wayne Lukas a 1-3 finish. Howe Great stalked the pace, loomed a big threat into the lane but flattened out. Imagining, the favorite off a big return win at Keeneland last month, raced in the clear on the outside but never made a move.

Preakness (race 12)

Rains ceased well before post time so track condition was not an issue. Another year will go by without a Triple Crown winner as Orb was disappointing while Oxbow ran the race of his life. He bounced out of the gate and in a matter of strides and without much resistance from Goldencents took a clear lead. From there he got away with murder, setting slow splits while maintaining a clear lead, kicked gamely for home and ran on strongly to the wire, keeping the hard-trying Itsmyluckyday at bay. It’s a great story, too, that legendary trainer Wayne Lukas gets back in the spotlight (6th Preakness win) with Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens, who just came out of retirement and gets another Preakness (3rd). Oxbow is also owned by legendary Calumet Farm. Talk about an old-school win. It was one of slowest Preaknesses in memory but that was primarily a function of the very slow pace. On to the Grade 1 Belmont June 8 for the winner and maybe the Derby winner. Itsmyluckyday sat a couple lengths off Oxbow while staying out wide, moved closer turning for home, went after the winner in the lane but couldn’t get to him. This was a nice bounce-back after his dull Kentucky Derby run. Mylute was last early, came around horses on the turn and finished decently though it never looked as though he was going to get there. Derby finishers 6-15-5 ran 1-2-3 here. Orb seemed to have a great trip for the first 6 furlongs as he broke decently and bided his time midpack. He edged closer going down the backstretch but then started losing ground despite being urged. He plugged along for 4th but he was out of it by the quarter pole. In retrospect, being inside couldn’t have helped, but that’s not the reason for the loss. Trainer Shug McGaughey said Orb seemed to exit the race fine and that he’d like to go in the Belmont. Goldencents pressed Oxbow but faltered turning for home and was done. Odds are it’s back to Southern California for him.

Betfair at Hollywood Park
Marjorie L. Everett Handicap (race 10)

Race complexion changed when one of the favorites, More Chocolate, scratched. A freshening and return to synthetic did the trick for Open Water as she posted a late-running upset. Her only 2 wins came on synthetic footing (Turfway’s Polytrack) in the winter of 2012 and she ran well to be 2nd in the Grade 2 Bayakoa here in the fall. Freshened since a dull 6th in the Grade 2 La Canada on dirt at Santa Anita Jan. 20, she bided her time early, as is her custom, was content to lag back to the top of the lane, came with a swooping move to go around her foes and grab the lead by midstretch, and then gamely fended off heavy favorite Lady of Fifty. The Grade 1 Vanity here June 15 figures next. Lady of Fifty raced with the winner early, was just in front of that foe turning for home, got passed by Open Water into the lane but stayed on gamely for 2nd, much the best of the rest. The Vanity figures to be in her plans, too. I Dazzle stalked the pace, got shuffled back into the lane but got going again to get 3rd, though she was never a threat to the top 2. Maker Or Breaker and Sister Kate were well clear early while setting a fast pace and both paid the price.