09/22/2013 11:00PM

Trip Notes for September 21: Gallant Bloom, Gallant Bob, Cotillion and Pennsylvania Derby...


Belmont - Gallant Bloom Handicap (race 9)

COMMENT: Cluster of Stars used her speed to make it a perfect 6 for 6 in her career and stamped herself her a potential player in the Grade 1 BC F&M Sprint at Santa Anita Nov. 2. Making her first start since an easy win in the Grade 2 Distaff at Aqueduct April 13, she again used her speed, going right out to set the pace. She set solid splits while first under pressure from Munnings Sister and then favorite Dance to Bristol, but kicked away into the lane and drew off to win as much the best. Dance to Bristol stalked early in fourth, moved closer going to the far turn, tried to make a run at the winner while racing a bit erratically, but was no match for that foe while clear best of the rest. Dance Card, making her first start in 10 months, lagged back and finished decently. She was never really a threat but can improve off this run. Holiday Soiree bided her time and could make only mild headway.

Parx - Gallant Bob Handicap (race 9)

COMMENT: City of Weston, coming off a string of defeats, picked the right day to produce his best form as he notched his first graded win with a strong run to post a big upset. He stalked the pace in fourth while saving ground, was trying to make a run into the lane when blocked by traffic, angled back to the inside, surged in the final half-furlong to grab the lead, and was going away at the wire. Clearly Now, the favorite, bided his time, came with a nice steady run, looked as though he might win, but then couldn’t counter the winner’s late surge. Black Hornet set a hot pace under pressure from Rainbow Heir, dispatched with that rival in the final furlong and stayed on well, though his early work took its toll in the final half-furlong. Rainbow Heir dogged Black Hornet early through sizzling splits and paid the price as he weakened in the final half-furlong.

Parx - Cotillion (race 10)

COMMENT: A summit of sorts between top-class Close Hatches and unbeaten Sweet Lulu was at hand, with the former prevailing as the favorite. She stalked the pace of Sweet Lulu early, moved up to challenge that foe on the far turn, had to fight hard to get past, but finally got the better of that foe and edged away late in the final yards. It remains up in the air as to whether she’ll take a shot at stablemate and champion Royal Delta in the Grade 1 BC Distaff at Santa Anita Nov. 1. Sweet Lulu, previously 4 for 4 and trying a route for the first time, set a brisk pace under pressure first from My Happy Face and then from Close Hatches, battled back gamely when challenged by Close Hatches on the turn, and only succumbed in the final furlong. For a first route this was very smart but she may be better playing a game like the Grade 1 BC F&M Sprint, at least at this stage of her career. Street Girl stumbled at the start to get away poorly, bided her time, steadily advanced and finished very smartly, just failing to catch Sweet Lulu in the final strides. My Happy Face stalked the pace, kept to her task well but just wasn’t good enough.

Parx - Pennsylvania Derby (race 11)

COMMENT: Will Take Charge validated his big Grade 1 Travers win and punched his ticket for the Grade 1 BC Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 2 with another impressive performance. He bided his time in fifth, moved closer on the far turn, was blocked behind horses, but angled to the inside, found a seam, surged though, grabbed the lead and drew off. He’s apparently a brand-new horse with blinkers off. Moreno confirmed the form of the Travers, having run second there and following it up with another good runner-up performance. He was jostled and crowded at the start but still had the speed to be cutting the pace by the first margin call. He took pressure from Fury Kapcori, appeared in deep trouble in midstretch when passed by the winner and Battier, but showed courage to rerally for second, even if he was no match for Will Take Charge. The BC Classic figures on his radar as well. Battier lagged back, came with a strong wide run to be very threatening into the lane but couldn’t sustain it. Still, this was a nice move forward after a so-so fourth in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones here Sept. 2. Fury Kapcori, the West Coast raider, dogged Moreno early, seemed in a good spot turning for home, but faded.