08/27/2012 2:36PM

Trip Notes: Travers Stakes, Pacific Classic, and more


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ballston Spa Stakes

ZAGORA dispelled the notion that she had lost a step or two from her Grade 1-winning form of 2011, scoring a strong victory in course-record time. Zagora sat back off the pace as usual, made a powerful run into the stretch, and used one of the best late kicks she has ever demonstrated to prove clearly best and shatter the previous course mark. HUNGRY ISLAND also made a powerful run from off the pace, and though she was turned back with authority by the winner, she did prove she can fire big on a course other than one with considerable cut in it. SUMMER SOIREE, in her first start in nine months, cut out a very strong early pace. She gave way in the final furlong, but considering the layoff and level of competition, she should only improve off this effort. TAPITSFLY, as expected, tracked Summer Soiree’s pace but was empty before reaching the stretch and seems well below her Grade 1-winning form of only less than three months ago.

Test Stakes

CONTESTED got off to a flat-footed start. That could have been very costly if she was going for the early lead, but since she was going to rate this time, it might not have been as costly. Contested rated off a scorching early pace that was considerably faster than the one males posted in the King’s Bishop one race later, reached the front in mid-stretch, and scored by daylight to become a viable candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. GYPSY ROBIN prompted the fast pace and fought gamely to the finish in a commendable, if surprising, effort. BEAUTIFUL BUT BLUE and WELL KEPT basically clunked up for minor shares. AMIE’S DINI, considered a potential upsetter off the cut back in distance, failed to threaten without an excuse. BOOK REVIEW, the second choice in the betting to Contested by a long way, virtually lost contact with the field early, dropping far off the pace, and never got involved in a mystifying non-effort. AUBBY K proved ineffective from off the pace. ULLAPOOL gave way after setting that hot pace but will be formidable in more realistic spots.

King's Bishop Stakes

WILLY BEAMIN, running back off only two days rest – he won the nine-furlong Albany over New York-breds on Wednesday – prevailed in a King’s Bishop that will not be remembered as particularly strong because it collapsed late, accordion-style. Content to sit off the pace, Willy Beamin found a seam between rivals in upper stretch and got the money, with just 1 1/2 lengths separating the first five finishers. FORT LOUDON raced off the pace early and narrowly grabbed the place after a long drive. UNBRIDLED’S NOTE raced in traffic and steadied at various points on the backstretch and far turn and was blocked in traffic at a critical juncture in upper stretch before finally getting clear. He was unlucky. DOCTOR CHIT eschewed a pace duel with Trinniberg and rated this time and raced gamely. LAURIE’S ROCKET was going well at the finish, but that was probably a function of the race tying up late. CURRENCY SWAP seemed uncomfortable racing inside of horses, tired, and lost for the first time at Saratoga. EVER SO LUCKY, considered a threat off the cut back to a sprint, never got involved. TRINNIBERG caught a break when Doctor Chit declined to duel with him early, set a comparatively moderate pace, and yet still caved in the final furlong. GUN BOAT checked on the rail down the backstretch and surrendered.

Travers Stakes

GOLDEN TICKET and ALPHA finished in a dead heat for win, providing ammunition to those who insisted this was one of the weakest renewals of the Travers in recent memory. Golden Ticket raced in close striking distance inside early, slipped through on the rail entering the stretch, looked home free at 33-1 in mid-stretch, then appeared beaten by Alpha near the wire, only to get a share of the win in uninspiring final time. Alpha also raced close up early but in the three to four path, losing more ground than his co-winner. He gamely came at Golden Ticket late, but could not close the deal when it looked like he would. FAST FALCON trailed early and finished strongly outside late to narrowly miss. ATIGUN raced outside and failed to produce the needed late kick. NONIOS, farther back early than expected, offered little when asked. NECK ’N NECK, in good position early, came up empty nearing the stretch. STEALCASE tired after pressing the early pace set by SPEIGHTSTOWN, who gave way once displaced from the lead. LIAISON raced wide and never made an impact. FIVE SIXTEEN tired after establishing early striking position. STREET LIVE never got involved and was vanned off.

-- Trip notes by Mike Watchmaker

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Del Mar
Del Mar Mile

OBVIOUSLY stole away from the field from his outside post and set sizzling fractions while hard held by Talamo. He enjoyed a long lead into the stretch but began to tire from the enervating early fractions and was all-out to hold off MR. COMMONS, setting a course record in the process. Mr. Commons was reserved as usual off the early going and wrangled back to last during the early stages. He was sent up along the inside midway on the final turn and angled out turning for home. He closed furiously in the middle of the course but simply ran out of ground, just missing the tiring winner. JERANIMO, coming off a top effort in the Grade 1 Shoemaker, dropped back to last with less than a half-mile to go, rallied inside into the stretch but never made a serious impact. CALIMONCO chased the winner to the stretch and flattened out.

Del Mar
Pat O'Brien Stakes

Bob Baffert took the top two spots in this Grade 2 sprint. CAPITAL ACCOUNT would appear to have sat a dream trip here, not far back off a three-pronged battle for the lead, but the fractions were tepid and David Flores had to swing his mount five to six wide leaving the turn and into the stretch. Nevertheless, Capital Account responded and wore down his stubborn stablemate in the final yards. COIL sat a perfect trip right off pacemaker Don Tito’s flank while benefitting from the pokey pace. He took over midway of the turn with Camp Victory to his outside and shook off that one’s bid but couldn’t contain the winner in deep stretch. Still, it was another solid effort from last year’s Haskell winner, who may have found his sweet spot as a sprinter-miler. CAMP VICTORY was coming off a career effort in the Triple Bend and seemed poised to take over hitting the quarter pole but flattened just a bit from mid-stretch to the wire. DON TITO set a soft but pressured pace and was outrun through the stretch by his classier rivals.

Del Mar
Pacific Classic

DULLAHAN once again showed his proclivity for synthetic surfaces with a strong performance over some of the top older horses in the country. The victory put him in with at least a fighting chance of wresting the 3-year-old championship from I’ll Have Another. Dullahan was taken toward the rear of the pack during the early going and kept in the clear on the outside. Joel Rosario kept Dullahan behind cover until the quarter pole, where he tipped out six wide into the stretch. Dullahan responded with a powerful rally, collaring Game On Dude 50 yards from the wire, edging away late, and setting a track record. He earned a career-best Beyer of 111. GAME ON DUDE had to be gathered leaving the gate when pacesetting Riveting Reason came over leaving the gate. Chantal Sutherland then used her mount’s speed to take up the chase moving into the first turn. Late down the backside, Game On Dude was asked to make the lead, easily gliding to the front and appeared on his way to victory in upper stretch when the winner picked up a full head of steam and ran him down in the closing yards. RICHARD’S KID was buried down on the inside for much of the first mile and had to check when the early pacesetters backed up but made a nice run along the fence into the stretch. At that point the top two were long gone, and the rider wrapped up on him late while preserving the minor award. RAIL TRIP raced along the outside in good position but lacked a solid late rally. SUGGESTIVE BOY was well placed stalking the leaders but also lacked late punch. AMANI, the only filly in the field, was in midpack and one-paced.

Personal Ensign

The entire complexion of this race turned on a dime when It’s Tricky went to her nose at the start, giving up her normal pacesetting/stalking position. LOVE AND PRIDE assumed that role, racing just to the outside of Brushed By a Star through the first three-quarters of a mile. She surged to the lead when Brushed By a Star faltered into the stretch, but was engaged by a game It’s Tricky, who made a nifty move along the inside around the far turn. Into the stretch, It’s Tricky’s compromised trip began to take its toll, and Love and Pride edged away, but she still had to hold off 3-5 favorite Royal Delta, who surged late to cut into the final margin. ROYAL DELTA seemed perfectly placed with It’s Tricky’s mishap, even pinning that rival on the rail in the run down the backstretch. But when it looked like she was poised to take over into the stretch she began to spin her wheels, only accelerating a bit late to gain the place. IT’S TRICKY shockingly broke last when she stumbled badly coming out of the gate. She rushed up to be within hailing distance leaving the half-mile pole but, exhausted by her efforts, gave ground grudgingly late in an admirable effort.

-- Trip notes by Irwin Cohen