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Trip Notes: Woodward, Debutante, Del Mar Derby recaps
Saturday, Sept. 3
Saratoga -- Personal Ensign
Guess it’s time to start taking Ask the Moon seriously as her nice win here gave her a sweep of the meet’s two premier events for older distaffers (also won the G1 Ruffian). Claimed for $75K June 15 she appears to have a new lease on life and as in her Ruffian win her speed was the main factor. As in the Ruffian she bounced right out to a clear lead. She maintained that edge, saw Pachattack nudge closer into the lane but then spurted clear while, as she did in the Ruffian, drifting out through the lane. She may not rank with Blind Luck and Havre de Grace but if they point for the G1 BC Classic she could be a player in the Ladies’ Classic. Trainer Wolfson said he would not race her around one turn again (so no G1 Beldame at BEL Oct. 1) and that she might possibly just train up to the BC Ladies’ Classic Nov. 5 at CD. Pachattack stalked the winner from the start, moved up menacingly into the lane but couldn’t sustain her run and stay with the winner. Tiz Miz Sue bided her time and came with a steady run though she never really appeared a threat to the winner. Super Espresso was slow into stride and never made a move. She’s had a busy few months and her form has tailed off a bit so maybe she’d due for a break.
Saratoga -- Forego
Coming off a strong win in the James Marvin earlier this meet Jackson Bend used the same powerful late charge to capture this and prove himself indeed a serious one-turn horse. As in the Marvin he bided his time well off a brisk pace, weaved through traffic on the far turn and blasted home to win going away. He’s now 3 for 3 going 7 furlongs. Instead of cutting back to 6 furlongs for the G1 Vosburgh at Belmont on Oct. 1, however, he’ll point for the G2 Kelso at Belmont on the same day at a mile as a way to get the G1 BC Dirt Mile. Jersey Town, winner of last year’s G1 Cigar Mile and making just his second start of the year, stalked the pace, loomed a big threat into the lane but was no match for the winner while gamely holding third. He’ll also reportedly go next in the Kelso as a steppingstone to the BC Dirt Mile. Aikenite sat back and finished well, though he was never really a threat to the winner. Sidney’s Candy, the favorite, dueled through hot splits with Hamazing Destiny but paid the price as he gave way in the lane. His speed is apparently much more effective going longer as opposed to going headlong into other sprint speed.
Saratoga -- Woodward
Havre de Grace firmly put her name into the Horse of the Year discussion as she took on males in this prestigious route and proved best. Now a winner of 4 of 5 this year, her only loss coming by a nose to division leader Blind Luck, Havre de Grace stalked the pace, came with a smart wide run on the far turn, ran past pacesetter Rule, opened up and then persevered gamely to get to the line before a hard-charging Flat Out. This opens up more options as she can now target either the G1 BC Classic or G1 BC Ladies Classic, though her connections had said her next start would be back against distaffers in likely the G1 Beldame at Belmont on Oct. 1. Flat Out sat well back, came with a strong rally but just couldn’t get to the winner. It was still a solid effort and stamps him a legit danger in the G1 JC Gold Cup and the G1 BC Classic. Rule set a modest pace, responded well when challenged but couldn’t keep up with the top 2 in the lane while clear best of the rest. Mission Impazible stalked pacesetter Rule but was unable to be a factor when it counted. That was a second straight disappointing run for the horse who just missed by a neck in the G1 Foster at Churchill Downs a few months ago. Could be he’s in need of a break.
Monmouth -- Sapling
She Digs Me, a son of crack 2-year-old Henny Hughes, made like daddy when he won for the third straight time. Winner of the Tyro here July 24, the traditional prep for this race, She Digs Me used different tactics. He’s used his speed to be prominent from the start in his past three starts but here he was slow into stride. It didn’t matter in the least. He steadily advanced, came with a strong wide run into the lane to seize command and drew off to win with complete authority. The way he won says he may deserve a shot at the big boys in a race like Belmont's G1 Champagne on Oct. 8. Jagati, a big 12-plus length maiden winner at Saratoga on Aug. 8, sat midpack after being knocked around at the start, didn’t appear to be going anywhere while inside but got going late to finish on even terms with Black Rhino for second, though he never scared the winner. Black Rhino stalked the pace, had no answer when the winner came storming past but kept to his task to hold a share of second in a dead heat with Jagati. Voodoo Daddy, the favorite off a big debut win at Saratoga on Aug. 17 and like the winner trained by Asmussen, showed good speed again but that led to a duel with Deliburnsky and he paid the price, fading to eighth. Of course it’s far too early to give up on this guy.
Monmouth -- Molly Pitcher
On paper Quiet Giant dominated this after a 6 3/4-length romp in the Lady’s Secret here July 31, and that's the way it worked out on the track. She used her speed to dog pacesetter Debonair Darling from the start, took over under her own power on the far turn and opened up without really being asked. She won geared won without a nervous moment. With top distaffers Blind Luck and Havre de Grace possibly now casting an eye toward the G1 BC Classic this girl could now have a huge say in the G1 BC Ladies' Classic. The G1 Beldame at Belmont on Oct. 1 may be next. Payton d’Oro sat midpack, came with a run into the lane, was no match for the big winner but kept on well to be much the best of the rest. Absinthe Minded also sat midpack, made some headway in the lane but was never a threat. Champagne d’Oro was just behind the winner early but failed to muster a run as she tried a route. The 2-time G1 SW around one-turn figures to go back to that type of trip.
Arlington -- Washington Park Handicap
Mister Marti Gras was freshened, moved to this synthetic track for the first time and responded with a smart performance to get the win. The 4-year-old lagged well back from the start, remained there to the far turn, began to advance with a wide run into the lane and continued a sustained run that just got him up in the final strides. This doesn't mean he's ready for a race like the G1 JC Gold Cup or anything like that, but does show he can do some damage in the right spots. Workin for Hops, the favorite, went right out to the lead, rebuffed a challenge into the lane, opened up as if he would win but just couldn’t quite fend off the winner while drifting in. Maristar was last early, came with a smart run on the inside but had to steady sharply when his path was taken. The stewards ruled it was runner-up Workin for Hops who caused the problem, dropping him to third and moving Maristar up to second. General Quarters stalked the pace but then came up empty. He’s just not the same horse.
Del Mar -- Del Mar Debutante
Weemissfrankie likely established herself at the top of the West Coast 2-year-old filly pecking order with a convincing victory. She had blasted home to beat maidens in her debut July 20 and used the same late power here. She bided her time while staying wide and in the clear, stayed wide into the lane and rolled past her rivals. She's by G1 turf route SW Sunriver (kin to champ and multiple G1 route SW Ashado) so she’s bred to do well as the furlongs add up. The G1 Oak Leaf at SA Oct. 2 is likely next and her steppingstone to the G1 BC Juvenile Fillies. If she doesn’t care for dirt, though, they may eye the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf instead. Self Preservation, an Irish raider making her first start in the U.S., first start on synthetic and first start in over 2 months, was last early, stayed there to the far turn and then finished strongly in a most encouraging try. The Oak Leaf may also be her next date, or the G1 Alcibiades at Keeneland on Oct. 7. Emerald Gold likewise was well back and finished well as the late runners dominated the results. Disappointments were impressive maiden winners Silent Saga and Dreamcaster, as ‘Saga lagged back early and never made a run while Dreamcaster stalked the past, loomed ominously into the lane but then gave way.
Saratoga -- Saranac
Brilliant Speed was good enough to be third in the G1 Belmont but he showed here he is likely best on turf and synthetic as the return to grass got him his first turf SW. The son of Dynaformer sat midpack, moved up easily to challenge into the lane and powered home to win going away. The G1 Jamaica (also for 3-year-olds only) at BEL Oct. 8 is a logical next stop. Queen’splatekitten was on the pace from the start, gamely rebuffed some challenges but had no answer for the winner while showing heart in keeping second. King Congie lagged well back early and finished strongly. Live in Joy had an odd trip. He stalked the pace, came with a strong, threatening run on the far turn as if he was going to contend, but he blew the turn and couldn’t recover.
Saratoga -- Spinaway
Grace Hall, a winner of her debut at Delaware, made the successful jump from maiden winner to G1 SW and did so in smart fashion. She stalked in fourth, came wide into the lane and finished strongly to grab command late and win going away. She’s by multiple G1 route SW Empire Maker so there’s no reason she shouldn’t relish more ground. The G1 Frizette at BEL Oct. 8 may be next. Judy the Beauty, the favorite off 3 straight wins at Keeneland, in France and at Woodbine, stalked in third, came with her challenge into the lane, worked hard to get past Georgie’s Angel but couldn't match the winner late while much the best of the rest (9 lengths). And Why Not broke slowly, finished steadily but was never really a factor. Georgie’s Angel, winner of her first two starts including the G3 Schuylerville, dogged pacesetter Born Bullish, seemed in a good spot while inside but gave way when the real racing began.
Monmouth -- Cliff Hanger
Yummy With Butter may be long in the tooth but the 7-year-old showed he’s as good if not better than ever as he posted a second straight G3 SW at the meet, taking what seemed a contentious race and turning into his own parade with an easy score. It didn’t hurt that morning line favorite and G3 SW Right One was scratched but 'Butter settled toward the back of the small field, steadily advanced to the top of the lane and then surged to the lead and drew off to win with ease. This doesn't mean he's ready for the BC Mile but surely he can be scary in the right spot. Cherokee Lord dogged pacesetter Sayif from the start, was no match for the winner in the lane but kept to his task well for second. Sleepless Knight was last early, put in a strong menacing run into the lane to briefly appear a threat to 'Butter but couldn’t sustain his bid while much the best of the others. Sayif set the pace but was under constant pressure and gave way.
Del Mar -- Del Mar Derby
Banned validated his superb third in the G1 Secretariat but it wasn't easy and shows there isn't a big gap among the top 3-year-old turfers. The son of turf champ Kitten’s Joy, sent off the heavy favorite, sat midpack, was asked to go after the leaders with a wide run on the far turn, surged to the lead by midstretch but then gamely had to battle a resurgent Midnight Interlude to just squeak by. Trainer Proctor said he may stay out West and shoot for the G2 Oak Tree Derby Oct. 15, then possibly the G1 Hollywood Derby in November. He said right now there are no BC plans for this year for his 3-year-old. Midnight Interlude was superb in defeat. The G1 SA Derby winner went right to the lead, took constant heavy pressure from Thirtyfirststreet, looked beaten when Banned stormed past at the eighth pole but responded wonderfully to re-rally and push that rival to a nose finish. A fine try and shows he's a legit top turf 3-year-old on turf and dirt. Extensive, a stablemate of the winner, stalked the pace and kept to his task doggedly to be a good third. Cloud Man sat back, just behind Banned, and finished well. Burns, winner of the G2 La Jolla, sadly broke down going into the clubhouse turn and had to be euthanized.