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Trip Notes: Whitney Handicap, Clement L. Hirsch, West Virginia Derby, and more
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Whitney Handicap (race 10)
Cross Traffic is apparently the real deal beyond a mile, too, as the son of Unbridled’s Song, who we sadly lost just last week, moved to nine furlongs for the first time in probably the toughest race yet this year for elders and beat some top-class foes. With Cross Traffic having all sorts of speed and coming off a strong second in the Grade 1 Met Mile, you wonder how he’d handle this tougher task, particularly with defending champ Fort Larned and all his speed looming a major pace obstacle. Cross Traffic caught a break when Fort Larned broke a bit slow and was then dull. That left Cross Traffic to control the issue. He set a modest pace, opened up into the lane and while wandering some in the final furlong held Successful Dan safe. The Grade 1 Woodward, at 1 1/8 miles here Aug. 31, could be next, and if all goes well there they would surely target the Grade 1 BC Classic. Successful Dan was examined by the track vet prior to the race after falling over in the walkway on the way to the track but stayed in and ran very nicely. He showed little speed, sitting well back early, but commenced a smart run turning for home and finished with good energy to at least give the winner a scare. The Woodward would seem logical for him as well. Mucho Macho Man stalked the pace, moved closer into the lane but couldn’t sustain his bid. Fort Larned broke a bit slowly, was beaten to the punch by Cross Traffic for the lead, stalked that rival but then gave way. Trainer Wilkes said Fort Larned prefers to be on the lead, and that if he came out of the race okay he would still target the Woodward.
West Virginia Derby (race 8)
Departing ran sixth in the Grade 1 Preakness but he was freshened since, dropped for this and showed he’s still very talented as he had no trouble beating up on this bunch. He bided his time early while Ruler of Love set the pace, commenced with a powerful wide run on the turn that swept him past his rivals and clear to win in a romp. Trainer Al Stall Jr. said he’ll target one of either the Penn Derby, Super Derby, or Indiana Derby, meaning he’ll stay away from the big boys of the division. At least for now. Ruler of Love set a modest pace under pressure, was no match for the winner but stayed on nicely to be a clear second. Overanalyze stalked in third, tried to go with the winner on the turn but was no match for that foe and finished evenly thereafter. Betweenhereandcool stalked early, lost position going to the far turn, swung out and got going again but was no factor.
Clement L. Hirsch (race 8)
Lady of Fifty had finished behind at least four of today’s foes in recent months, and that didn’t even include heavily favored defending champ Include Me Out, but none of that mattered as she ran the best race of her life and became a Grade 1 winner. As is her custom she bided her time early, still sitting second to last on the far turn. However, she then pitched very wide while unleashing a strong kick and swept past her rivals to win comfortably. Off this she figures to wait for the Grade 1 Zenyatta at Santa Anita Oct. 5, and should all go well there, maybe a swing at the Grade 1 BC Ladies’ Classic there Nov. 1. More Chocolate sat midpack, came through between horses on the far turn, swung out into the lane and finished well though she couldn’t go with the winner. Byrama was unlucky. She saved ground while stalking the pace, waited for room while still on the rail coming off the far turn, remain blocked and had to steady as she tried to move out, moved back inside for a lane and finished well but the damage was done. That isn’t to say she was going to beat the winner but she surely could have been closer and the trouble came at a crucial juncture. The Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland Oct. 6 may be next as she surely prefers synthetic. Include Me Out was very disappointing as she seemed in a good spot, stalking the pace while wide. She moved closer turning for home but then backed out of it. Considering she looked so good in her comeback win and had been working lights-out for this, her dull effort is cause for concern. Trainer Ron Ellis did say he might start her again this meet, in the Adoration Sept. 1, and take things from there.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (race 9)
The sprint division continues to be a mish-mash as it was Justin Phillip’s turn on this day to produce a big effort. Coming off a so-so fourth in Calder’s Grade 2 Smile July 6, when handily beaten by Bahamian Squall, he got his revenge with the return to this track. He bided his early, steadily advanced, came with a smart run into the lane, grabbed the lead and drew off. The Grade 1 Forego here Aug. 31 figures next. Bahamian Squall raced alongside the winner early, didn’t accelerate nearly as quick but got going well enough late to nab second while no real threat. Gentlemen’s Bet dueled early with Delauney while staying on the fence, still had the lead in midstretch but couldn’t keep pace late. Delauney, the favorite, dueled with Gentlemen’s Bet but weakened just a bit from those efforts. He looked like the top sprinter a couple months ago but two straight losses now make you wonder if he’s just not as sharp as he was this winter/early spring. Trainer Tom Amoss said he’d now get some time off, probably a good move.
Best Pal (race 8)
Alberts Hope, a bit surprisingly favored off a 33-1 debut win at Hollywood, proved the players right as he gamely prevailed. He sat a few lengths off a solid pace of Alpine Luck and Guns Loaded, came with a smart four-wide move into the lane to grab the lead, and gamely rebuffed a stubborn Celtic Moon through the lane. The Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity Sept. 4 (closing day) will reportedly be next. Celtic Moon was just in front of the winner early, moved up nicely inside as that foe took command into the lane and doggedly went after the winner the rest of the way in a fine try. The Futurity figures next for him as well. This looks like a nice bunch, though hunch here is the West’s top 2-year-old male hasn’t made an appearance yet. Guns Loaded dogged pacesetter Alpine Luck, couldn’t finish with the top two but stayed on decently for third. Ontology ducked in at the start to get away poorly and was unable to overcome the trouble.
odd that ft. larned's wins all seem to be when he has higher odds. he just can't seem to win as the favorite. a common affliction among top horses in florida and new york. any chance Wilkes is a gambling man? there are some people making a lot of money off of his losses. i keep making some too bc he is so predictable but i still think it's pathetic.
Wilkes also said before the race Fort Larned doesn't need the lead to win. Apparently he needs an uncontested first quarter.