09/17/2012 10:25AM

Trip Notes: Woodbine Mile, Garden City Stakes, and more


Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012

Noble Damsel (race 8)

Naples Bay has apparently turned the corner. The $350K daughter of Giant’s Causeway has hinted at ability, but is putting it all together. She whipped foes at Monmouth on Aug. 17 and did even better here, notching her first graded stakes win. She stalked the pace in third, edged closer into the lane, and came home smartly to grab the lead and edge clear. She may not be ready for the big gals and races like the Grade 1 Flower Bowl or Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but she can certainly do damage in the right spots, which may include a race like the Grade 3 Athenia here Oct. 13. Dealbata, favored off a tough-beat second in a stakes at Saratoga last month, again lagged back and finished full of run, but couldn’t get to the winner. Silver Screamer, a Grade 3 winner freshened since fading in Monmouth’s Matchmaker on July 29, shot out to a clear lead, was still there in midstretch though was visibly tiring, was no match for the winner, and couldn’t fend off Dealbata while still clear of the others. Federation chased Silver Screamer from the start and weakened a bit late. Well-regarded Euros Kya One and Last of the Range were no factor, finishing fifth and eighth, respectively. Julie’s Love, a winner of 3 of 4 since coming to the United States from Europe, including a stakes win at Saratoga last month, stalked the pace, but gave way badly.

Garden City (race 9)

Samitar, a Group 1 winner in Ireland and a tough-beat third in the Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga on July 25 in her U.S. debut (beaten just a neck), validated her heavy favoritism, but it wasn’t easy. She stalked the pace in fourth, bided her time, went after the lead into the lane, took over inside the furlong pole, and looked as though she might draw clear but then had to gamely repel the strong bid of Somali Lemonade. She figures a prime player for a race like the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland on Oct. 13. Somali Lemonade was slow into stride as is her custom, but as also is her custom finished strongly to just miss catching Samitar. A rematch at Keeneland could in the cards, and that race would be special as the other top 3-year-old filly turfers Lady of Shamrock, Centre Court, Dayatthespa, and Stephanie’s Kitten are eyeing that race, too, as well as the customary top Euro raiders. Tannery, an Irish invader who had won 4 of her last 5, was last from the start, still there turning for home, and finished well, though she wasn’t really a danger to the top two. Open Water, third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last month, stalked the pace, loomed a big threat into the lane, but flattened out.

Pucker Up (race 8)

Leading Astray may be an Illinois-bred taking on tough open foes, but the 3-year-old filly made it 5 wins in 6 starts (the lone loss being a second, beaten just a neck) as she continued her superb form. Winner of the Hatoof here last month, the daughter of Belong to Me sat well back early in the big field, steadily advanced while wide and in the clear, and came home resolutely to get the narrow win in a blanket finish. She eyes Keeneland next, possibly the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II on Oct. 13 or may instead go in what figures to be an easier spot, the Grade 3 Valley View there Oct. 19. Miss Cato, a multiple stakes winner in Europe and coming off a strong second versus elders in Southern California, stalked the pace, went after the leaders into the lane, kept on doggedly, and just missed in a good try. Volcat, freshened since winning the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs on July 21, chased pacesetter Soonerette, took over from that rival into the lane, stayed on well, but just couldn’t fend off the top two. Rare Event, romping winner of two turf races at Ellis Park this summer, found these waters too deep for just her fourth start as the $400K daughter of A.P. Indy stalked the pace but gave way. Angegreen, the favorite as she invaded from Italy with strong form (3 wins and 2 seconds in 5 starts) including finishing second in a Group 2 there, was slow into stride and never really picked up a foot, finishing last in a dull try.

Kentucky Downs
Kentucky Turf Cup (race 9)

Ioya Bigtime, who seems to have a new lease on life since moving to marathon distances, flourished again on the lead, notching his second Grade 3 win in his last three starts. The son of Dynaformer again used his speed as he bounced right out to the lead, set a dawdling pace, and had more than enough gas left in the tank to keep the others at bay to the wire. The way he’s going, he could be a factor in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon – though he’s never run on dirt. Rahystrada, coming off a fine dead heat for third in the Grade 1 Arlington Million and easy winner of this race in 2011, dogged the winner from the start, gamely kept after him, but just couldn’t quite get to him. Kindergarden Kid, stepping up after being claimed for $50,000, stalked in third while saving ground, found room into the lane, and finished well, but just wasn’t quite good enough. Tahoe Lake sat back, loomed menacingly turning for home, but was then blocked and had to steady, and that was that.

Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012

Canadian (race 5)

The Europeans wasted no time striking a blow as raider Barefoot Lady was a good-looking winner. With a last-minute rider switch (jockey named at entry time couldn’t make the weight), the 4-year-old filly always looked good, stalking the early pace of Laughing in fourth. She moved closer turning for home, swung out into the lane, and powered home to win comfortably. All Star Heart, a Southern California raider, sat just behind the winner from the start, didn’t accelerate as quickly, but doggedly chased that miss home through the final furlong to be a good second. Stars to Shine dogged pacesetter Laughing from the start, moved up to grab the lead into the lane, albeit briefly as she was immediately tackled by Barefoot Lady. She was no match for that rival and couldn’t quite finish with All Star Heart as well. Kapitale, the favorite, lagged back, made a mild move into the lane, but was never really a threat.

Northern Dancer Turf (race 8)

It was déjà vu all over again. Last year, Wigmore Hall ran well to be fourth in the Grade 1 Arlington Million before coming here to win this. Well, this year he again ran decently at Arlington Park (seventh, beaten just 3 1/2 lengths), and he once again came here and proved victorious. Moving to this longer trip certainly seemed to help as the 5-year-old bided his time early, steadily advanced to reach contention into the lane, and doggedly kept to his task to wear down stubborn favorite Al Khali. Last year after his win here, he went back to England to try the Group 1 Champion. That may be in the cards again, though off this he may also deserve a crack at the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. Al Khali, the favorite who ran third to Wigmore Hall in this last year, stalked the pace, moved to the lead into the lane, was immediately challenged by Wigmore Hall, fought gamely, but just couldn’t quite beat that foe. Forte Dei Marmi was last early, still well back going to the far turn, and commenced a long sustained rally to be a good third. Scalo stalked the early pace, got shuffled back going to the far turn, got going again, but really wasn’t a threat.

Woodbine Mile (race 10)

Wise Dan left no doubt he’s the best turf miler in North America with a powerful victory here, and should his connections opt for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, it’s going to take some serious Euro power to frustrate him. The 5-year-old gelding, coming off a romping Grade 2 turf mile win at Saratoga, again used his tactical speed to get a great trip. He stalked pacesetters Worthadd and Artic Fern, surged through between those two on the far turn to take command, and drew off to win easily. He really didn’t have any anxious moments in the lane. His owner said the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt remains a possibility but that the Breeders’ Cup Mile was more likely. In fact, Wise Dan may next go in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 6 before shipping to Southern California. Again, any Euros who come over better bring their running shoes as this guy is a serious horse. Hunters Bay, making his first start on turf, lagged back and finished well, though he never really scared Wise Dan. Cityscape, considered the best of the Euro invaders, was just behind Wise Dan from the start, didn’t accelerate as quickly turning for home, kept on decently, but was no match for the winner. Riding the River was last from the start, still last turning for home, but finished smartly.