09/03/2012 5:15PM

Trip Notes: Woodward, Spinaway, Del Mar Debutante, and more

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Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012

Saratoga
Bernard Baruch (race 8)

Dominus, coming off a dominant optional claiming dirt sprint win here Aug. 4, his first start of the year, took a big step up in class while trying grass for the first time and flourished. The son of Smart Strike (who also produced grass champ English Channel) bounced right out to a clear lead, was able to set modest splits, basically won the race with a strong 4th quarter (22.23) as there was no way his foes were going to close into that split. This was Lure-like and could be the Grade 1 BC Mile is now on his radar. Data Link, the favorite, sat 3rd, bided his time, tried to make a run at the winner into the lane but was trying to catch a horse who was flying home and was never able to close the gap. Sky Blazer was last and finished with good energy, though he was never a threat. Guys Reward chased the winner from the start and weakened. Prince Will I Am, making his first start in nearly 15 months, was never a factor in a race he surely needed.

Saratoga
Forego (race 9)

Race lost some luster when favorite Shackleford scratched with a cough. Nevertheless, Emcee looked awfully good in victory. He dogged pacesetter Pacific Ocean from the start, appeared in trouble when Jersey Town cut the corner to surge to the lead into the lane but gamely went after that foe, had no trouble going by and drew clear for the easy win. This was visually impressively, though it’s worth noting he not only didn’t have to beat Shackleford and didn’t really face any of the other top sprinters (Amazombie, The Factor, Capital Account or Gantry) and caught defending champ Jackson Bend coming off a near-disastrous collision during a morning workout a couple weeks ago. Hamazing Destiny bided his time, pitched wide into the lane and finished well though he was never on the winner’s radar. Jersey Town, winless since taking the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in 2010, perked up nicely as he stalked the pace on the rail, moved through boldly to grab the lead into the lane when pacesetters Pacific Ocean and Emcee came off the inside, but couldn’t sustain his run, was no match for the winner in the final furlong and just lost 2nd. Jackson Bend, the defending champ making his first start since that near-calamitous morning workout collision a couple weeks ago, sat back early as is his custom, moved up nicely on the inside going to the far turn to look briefly threatening but didn’t produce his usual punch.

Saratoga
Woodward (race 10)

Another top race for elders, another different winner. This time it was To Honor and Serve. He looked poised for a huge year after his big Grade 3 Westchester return win this spring but was no real factor when 3rd in the Grade 1 Met Mile and no threat to Mucho Macho Man when 4th to him in the Grade 2 Suburban. Here, however, he showed his customary tactical speed, moved up nicely outside foes turning for home, grabbed the lead and gamely rebuffed a long hard challenge by Mucho Macho Man. Mucho Macho Man had no excuse. He got a dream run stalking the pace while saving ground, moved up behind the pacesetters while still inside, had to wait briefly for room but it came quickly. He moved through, looked like the winner but couldn’t get past. Still, he lost nothing in defeat. Stay Thirsty, who had done his best work here, stalked the pace while outside of Mucho Macho Man, stayed outside while that foe remained inside, but didn’t produce the needed rally.

Monmouth
Cliff Hanger (race 9)

Tune Me In showed his Grade 3 Oceanport win at 25-1 here July 29 was no fluke as he posted another upset (6-1) here. The gelding showed more speed this time, dogging Get Serious from the start. He took over from that foe into the lane, edged away a bit and stayed on gamely to keep favored Salto at bay. He’ll hate to see this meet end as all 5 wins have come on this turf course. Salto, a former French runner coming off a troubled 4th at Saratoga, sat back and finished smartly but just couldn’t get to the winner. Get Serious, who once had to be considered owner of this course (11 of his 14 wins have come on this course) set the pace under pressure from Tune Me In and just couldn’t keep up late. It wasn’t a bad effort by any means, but it’s apparent now that at age 8 and after all those furlongs he’s just not quite the same.

Arlington
Washington Park (race 7)

Middie was coming off a dull turf run at Mountaineer but apparently relished this surface as he proved a romping winner. Despite his last dull outing he’d worked powerfully on Keeneland’s Polytrack Aug. 25 and he won there last fall so he handles this footing. In his first start here he stalked the pace in 3rd, surged to the lead into the lane, blew the race wide open with that move and cruised to the line an easy winner, even if they did close the gap some. Mister Marti Gras sat back early, came with a decent finish but while he closed the gap on the winner the issue was never in doubt in the lane. Pool Play was last from the start, still there turning for home and passed a few rivals without threatening. Prayer for Relief, the favorite, stalked the pace, made a mild run turning for home but flattened out.

Del Mar
Del Mar Debutante (race 9)

Executiveprivilege made it a perfect 4 for 4 and confirmed her status as the West’s top 2-year-old filly – but just barely. The $650K sales buy went off the overwhelming favorite here. She bided her time early toward the back while staying wide, which seemed the place to be on this day. She remained well off the rail into the lane and put in a resolute run to just get up in the final stride. This and her Grade 3 Sorrento win here last month make you wonder if she’s not as fond of this Polytrack. That would be good news then as the meet closes. Beholder, coming off a big maiden win here, bounced right out to a clear lead after banging into the gate at the start, looked like the winner when she increased her lead into the lane but just got nailed on the line in a tearjerker. She looks like a comer for Richard Mandella. Mechaya, big debut winner here last month, stalked the pace but couldn’t make the necessary impact in the lane. She did sweat up quite a bit in the paddock and post parade and that couldn’t have helped. Heir Kitty, 2nd to the male Know More in the Grade 2 Best Pal, broke slowly, made a bit of a run into the lane but flattened out in a disappointing run.

Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012

Saratoga
Saranac (race 9)

Unbridled Command made it 3 straight as he not only successfully moved into graded stakes ranks, but ventured out of NY-breds for the first time. The colt bided his time midpack while Skyring ran off to a huge early lead, he steadily advanced, doggedly went after Skyring into the lane, got the better of that foe by midstretch and gamely kept him at bay. Nice as this was it’s tough to envision him being ready for the likes of Point of Entry and top grass elders. Skyring surged out to a clear lead, was still well in front turning for home, looked doomed by midstretch when Unbridled Command moved past but gamely showed fight as he kept after the winner to the line in a fine try. Lucky Chappy, the favorite, sat back from the start, was still well back turning foe home and even in midstretch before finding his top gear and finished strongly. Quick Wit was well back from the start and never made a move.

Saratoga
Spinaway (race 10)

Part of a powerhouse Stonestreet entry, Dreaming of Julia, scratched. So Many Ways, the proven commodity having won the Grade 3 Schuylerville, beat the “hype” horse Teen Pauline in impressive fashion. Making it 3 wins in as many starts, the daughter of Sightseeing sat 3rd while Teen Pauline set the pace under pressure from Corail, went after Teen Pauline into the lane, surged past by midstretch and opened up to win nicely. Sweet Shirley Mae was slow into stride and raced a bit greenly earlier, finally settled and came with a nice run through the lane though she was never really a threat to the winner. Teen Pauline, the heavy favorite off a big maiden win, set the pace under pressure, briefly battled the winner to midstretch but then weakened in a disappointing effort.

Monmouth
Sapling (race 9)

Brave Dave put on a nice display of guts and speed. He stumbled badly at the start and looked in deep water at that point. However, blessed with loads of speed he was still able to recover, quickly find his high gear to grab a clear early lead, set a brisk pace and gamely kept hard-trying Special Jo at bay through the lane. Special Jo sat last early, made a strong wide run on the far turn and into the lane and continued that run to close the gap on the winner, but he just couldn’t quite get to him while much the best of the rest. The efforts of the top 2 were very nice when compared to what 2-year-old fillies did in the Sorority about an hour earlier as these 2 ran much, much faster. Drum Roll lagged back, moved closer turning for home but never mustered the necessary run.

Del Mar
Del Mar Derby (race 9)

More proof that if you let a good horse have his way up front you’re asking for trouble. My Best Brother used his speed, as is his custom, to bounce right out to a clear lead. He set brisk splits, saw the field nudge closer turning for home but opened up again, giving him enough of a buffer to keep a couple hard closers at bay in the lane. That makes him 4 for his last 5, the lone loss coming by just a nose to Old Time Hockey in the Grade 2 La Jolla on this course last month, and he got his revenge. Howe Great stalked in 3rd, bided his time, doggedly went after the winner in the lane, closed the gap but just couldn’t get to him. Brother Francis sat well back, stayed there to the top of the lane, surged into the contention by midstretch but didn’t quite carry it through the final furlong. Old Time Hockey had a tough trip. He sat back, had to check going to the far turn, tried to get going again but then had to check again to really lose any chance.