06/17/2013 9:06AM

Trip Notes: Vanity, Stephen Foster, Pegasus, and more


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bed o’ Roses (race 3)

Dance to Bristol stepped up in class and was dealing with new surroundings but it didn’t stop her from winning her 5th straight and notching her first graded win. The daughter of champion sprinter Speightstown stalked in 3rd while Fantasy of Flight set a solid pace, went after that foe into the lane, collared her, grabbed the lead and drew off to win fairly comfortably in a fast time. She’s now finished first or second in 15 of 16 starts. Dance to Bristol may target the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga Aug. 23. Fantasy of Flight broke sharply to grab the lead, set a solid pace, battled back when hooked by the winner into the lane but couldn’t keep up. Delightful Quality dogged Fantasy of Flight from the start and basically stayed just behind her all the way around.

Hill Prince (race 8)

Notacatbutallama got going too late when rallying for 3rd in a grass stakes at Pimlico May 18, but the son of Harlan’s Holiday made no such mistake this time. He lagged back early as Shining Copper held a clear lead while setting the pace. He steadily advanced while inside, swung back out into the lane, came on smartly to grab the lead by midstretch and had to fight the rest of the way to fend off stubborn longshot Play It Loud. The Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Aug. 9 could be next. Play It Loud, sent off at 36-1 after finishing 7th in his only start against winners, and that way back on Feb. 9 at Gulfstream, stalked the pace, moved up to challenge for the lead into the lane and doggedly kept after the winner but just couldn’t quite outduel him. Chamois lagged well back and finished decently though he never really appeared a threat to win. Red Rifle, the favorite after winning his first 2 starts (1 on dirt, 1 on synthetic), raced near Chamois much of the way and finished just behind that foe. Joha, making his first start since running 9th in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club last Nov. 24, stalked the pace in 3rd, was still there turning for home but gave way. He can improve with this under his belt.

Obeah (race 7)

Coming off a romping stakes win here just 7 days earlier, Bryan’s Jewel was sent off the overwhelming 3-10 favorite, and while she validated that confidence it wasn’t easy by any means. She bided her time early and came with a smart run into the lane. She and longshot And Why Not made it a 2-horse race in the final furlong and Bryan’s Jewel gamely got the better of it. Nice as this was the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap here July 20 would probably still be biting off too much, particularly if champion Royal Delta and top-class Tiz Miz Sue decide to show up there again after running 1-2 in it last year. And Why Not, making her first start since giving way badly in the Grade 3 Bewitch at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Keeneland April 25, sat back with Bryan’s Jewel, moved in tandem with that gal, actually was just in front of her in midstretch and battled gamely to the line to just miss while clearly best of the others. Fire Assay, making her first start after a game win at Parx April 23, stalked the pace, helped make it 4 across the track in midstretch when moving up to challenge, but couldn’t keep up with the top 2 in the final furlong. Cinguaraya chased pacesetter Star’s Tizzy Fit, took the lead when that gal tired, and was still part of the 4-way battle to midstretch before weakening.

Fleur de Lis Handicap (race 6)

Royal Delta looked overwhelming on paper but Funny Proposition had different ideas as she posted the big upset, doing so fairly comfortably. She bounced out to a clear early lead, set modest fractions, was still clear turning for home, opened up and really didn’t have a nervous moment in the lane. Surely all the big distaff races are on her radar. Royal Delta, the 2-time champion who was back to defend her title, bided her time while stalking in 3rd, tried to make a run at the winner into the lane but never really appeared a big danger and she did lug in some in the lane. This was her first start since Dubai and first in almost 3 months, so maybe she can move forward off this run – though she won this last year in a romp under similar circumstances. She may defend her title in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap July 20. She’s All In was slow into stride to be last from the start in the small field, remained there to the top of the lane, still had work to do once straightened away but closed well. Wine Princess chased the pace but gave way late.

Matt Winn (race 7)

Code West stalked once much-ballyhooed Dewey Square from the start in 2nd, went after the lead into the lane, was beaten to the punch by classy Uncaptured, but doggedly kept to his task to narrowly defeat that rival in a big try. Trainer Bob Baffert said this may be a launching pad to the big summer 3-year-old races (i.e. Grade 1 Haskell, Grade 1 Travers). Uncaptured, once a Derby favorite before things went off-kilter, was just behind Code West early, moved quicker than that rival to grab the lead by midstretch, battled gamely, briefly switched to the wrong lead in midstretch, got back on the correct lead but couldn’t quite outduel Code West while finishing well clear of the others (5 1/4 lengths). Abstraction lagged back, came with a nice run through the lane but was never really a danger to the top 2. Dewey Square, once on many handicappers’ Derby short list, bounced right out to set the pace, tried to battle back when hooked by the top 2 into the lane but couldn’t keep up when it mattered. Treasury Bill, who once looked so promising out West, was slow into stride, as is his custom, was in tight on the clubhouse turn, had to steady between rivals and never recovered.

Stephen Foster Handicap (race 8)

Now that’s more like it. Fort Larned, so impressive in 2012 including winning the Grade 1 BC Classic before a couple of debacles this year, got back on track and then some, dominating a superb field for an easy win. When at his best it’s his speed that dictates things and that’s how it went here as he bounced out to a clear early lead, set some fast splits while still clear and then just opened up and ran away to win easily, just missing the track mark by .17. A repeat at the Grade 1 BC Classic at Santa Anita in the fall is now fully on the table, and the plan to get there may include the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Aug. 3 and then the Grade 1 JC Gold Cup. Golden Ticket lagged well back early, came with a strong run to pass some strong animals but was no threat to the winner while proving 2nd best. Ron the Greek, the defending champ, likewise lagged back and finished well though he was no threat at all to the winner. He may target the Whitney as well. Successful Dan seemed in a good spot stalking in 3rd early but never mustered a run. His rider said he didn’t handle the track. Take Charge Indy, the favorite, was just behind Fort Larned from the start, gamely pursued that rival but then gave way readily after doing the chasing.

Regret (race 9)

Kitten’s Dumplings was so impressive winning the Edgewood here May 3, and validated that form with a big tally here. She was devoid of speed to be far back early, commenced a wide run on the far turn, blasted home once straightened away to roll past her rival and actually win quite easily. The Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland in October is her ultimate goal. Praia likewise was well back early, was still well back turning for home but finished strongly in the lane though she was no match for the winner. Oscar Party stalked the pace in 3rd, tried to make a run into the lane but was no match for Kitten’s Dumplings and couldn’t fend off Praia in the final strides. Seaneen Girl, a classy filly trying turf for the first time, sat midpack but never made a move in fact lost ground in the lane. So, it appears the turf experiment didn’t work.

Betfair at Hollywood Park
Vanity Handicap (race 9)

Byrama showed again that on synthetic footing she can hold her own with some of the big girls. Moving back to synthetic and to a route after running 6th in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff (seven furlongs on a sloppy track) on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4, she flourished. Byrama stalked in 3rd while Royal Tiger opened up a big lead. Byrama bided her time, went after Royal Tiger turning for home, had no trouble going past that tiring rival, was immediately taken on by top-class More Chocolate but rebuffed that girl’s bid and opened up to win pretty easily. The Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar July 25 may be next. More Chocolate bided her time in 4th, wasn’t far behind Byrama, made her move just in behind that gal into the lane, looked threatening by midstretch but couldn’t keep up in the final furlong. Lady of Fifty, the favorite, broke slowly to be last early, was still well back turning for home, finished with good energy but was never really a danger. Esentepe, so impressive winning here May 9, chased Royal Tiger early but gave way badly. The way she was eased made you wonder if something went amiss.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pegasus (race 11)

Verrazano suffered his first defeat in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby but he skipped the other 2 jewels, shortened up for this and came back with a vengeance, winning a laugher. He went right out to a clear lead, set modest splits and extended his margin at every pole. No doubt he’s back on track, and off this he has to be considered among the elite 3-year-olds, at least from eight to nine furlongs. Of course, it didn’t hurt at all that main rival Itsmyluckyday was pulled up and vanned off. The Grade 1 Haskell here July 28 is reportedly next for Verrazano, and that spot will be much tougher. Reporting Star was 4th early, moved up to 2nd going to the backstretch, tried to get closer to Verrazano but was never really a factor while clear the best of the others. Bethel broke slowly, sat back while saving ground but never mustered a threat. Itsmyluckyday showed speed early to be 3rd but rider Mike Smith said the colt didn’t feel right in his left hind and he pulled him up going down the backside.