Week of April 1, 2013
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Animal Kingdom’s thrilling win set the stage for an exciting weekend of racing.

It all began early Saturday morning with the Dubai World Cup Day at Meydan—and, overall, the American contingent didn’t fare well as most couldn’t sustain front-leading starts.

In the Group 1 Golden Shaheen, Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Trinniberg raced among the leaders early on, even briefly taking the lead as they rounded the turn, but quickly faded as former U.S. runner Reynaldothewizard went on to win. Trinniberg’s eleventh-place finish was by far his worse placing since last year’s ill-advised run in the Kentucky Derby. The other American in the field, Grade 1-placed Private Zone also raced on the lead, but finished ninth. For Reynaldothewizard it was his first Group 1 win; you may recall his third-place effort in the 2008 Grade 2 Saratoga Special against Run Away and Hide and Break Water Edison. Now age 7, the gelding is on three-race win streak for Zabeel Racing International.

In the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free, Breeders’ Cup Turf champion Little Mike went to the early lead, but couldn’t last when the real running began in the stretch, fading to eleventh. However, his early hot pace set up the winner, the 6-year-old mare Sajjhaa, to establish a new course record for 9-furlongs on turf. While no American-based runners attempted the 12-furlong Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner St. Nicholas Abbey defeated Japanese Filly Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Gentildonna.

In the $10 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup, Breeders’ Cup Ladies champion Royal Delta led the boys on a merry chase—but right over her shoulder was Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom who flashed by her as they rounded the final turn, accelerating to win easily. Royal Delta settled for tenth-place, one spot in front of her countryman Dullahan who looked perfectly positioned, but simply lacked conviction. Interestingly, after Animal Kingdom’s victory it was the Australian national anthem that was played, not “The Star-Spangled Banner”—the choice of his new owner, John Messara of Arrowfield Stud. The good news for fans: Animal Kingdom’s racing career may not yet be over, as several options are being considered for him including Royal Ascot and/or an Australian campaign that may include the country’s premier weight-for-age race, the Cox Plate.

Earlier on the Dubai World Cup card, American-bred/European-raced Lines of Battle won the Group 2 UAE Derby, earning 100 points and a probable entry into the Kentucky Derby. Although the son of War Front has never raced on dirt, he’s got a solid dirt pedigree on his damside. His second dam Andover Way who won the Grade 1 Top Flight at Aqueduct is a half-sister to Grade 1 Wood Memorial runner-up Darby Creek Road—she’s also the dam of the great sire Dynaformer which should give him plenty of stamina. You can bet if he does go to the Derby as planned, he won’t enjoy the incredibly pokey fractions he did at Meydan. It should be mentioned that the American Triple Crown-nominated He’s Had Enough flopped in this race, finishing next-to-last and likely ending his Derby dreams.

Back in the States, Orb guaranteed his starting position in the Kentucky Derby with a convincing win in the Grade 1 Florida Derby over favored Itsmyluckyday. 103-1 longshot Narvaez and 29-1 Merit Man dueled for the early lead, along with last year’s juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby, but as they entered the stretch first Itsmyluckyday came on to take the lead, only to be passed by Orb who pulled away to win by nearly three lengths. Both Merit Man and Narvaez stayed on to flesh out the superfecta, but Shanghai Bobby finished out of the money in fifth. Orb’s jockey John Velazquez has a difficult decision to make since he’s also the rider of top contender Verrazano who he’ll ride in next weekend’s Grade 1 Wood Memorial. Whether Johnny V sticks with him or not, Orb is Derby-bound as is Itsmyluckyday. Third-place finisher Merit Man will sidestep the Derby in favor of the Grade 2 Peter Pan or perhaps the Grade 1 Preakness, according to his trainer Bob Hess, Jr.

The weekend’s other Derby prep race, the 100th running of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, was won by post-time favorite Revolutionary who held off the gutsy challenge of 19-1 Mylute—both coming from well back in the pack. In Mylute, a progeny of sprinter Midnight Lute once again proved his mettle routing, but on paper, Revolutionary looks best bred for the Kentucky Derby distance—and beyond. His A.P. Indy dam, Runup the Colors won the 10-furlong Grade 1 Alabama; her multiple Grade 1-winning half-sister Prospectors Delite is the dam of 10-furlong Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Mineshaft, not to mention 10-furlong Grade 1 Personal Ensign victress Tomisues Delight.

Not to be outdone, the Kentucky Oaks contenders looked even more impressive than their male counterparts in this weekend’s preps, beginning with Dreaming of Julia’s absolutely smashing victory in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Oaks. Pre-race, the question remained regarding her ability to stretch out, given that her dam Dream Rush was a terrific multiple-Grade 1-winning sprinter. Well, she certainly answered that question with aplomb, battling nemesis Live Lively early on, and then taking control around the final turn, accelerating yet running well within herself to win. The nearly 22-length margin of victory was truly mind-blowing, probably the single best performance we’ve seen this year by any horse. What does it say about the male 3-year-old crop that, over the same track on the same day barely 2-1/2 hours apart, she posted a time for the 1-1/8 miles (1:48.97)—geared down—that was nearly two seconds faster than their time (1:50.87) in the Florida Derby?

In the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, Unlimited Budget and Flashy Gray validated their clear advantage in class, battling with third-choice So Many Ways early before that now-proven sprinter faded, leaving the top two to battle it down the stretch with the unbeaten Unlimited Budget nearly two lengths ahead of her gallant rival as they crossed the wire. It was another 2-1/4 lengths back to 25-1 Seaneen Girl, making her 2013 debut after a shock win in last November’s Grade 2 Golden Rod. Not surprising given his plethora of stable talent, trainer Todd Pletcher now has the top two point-getters for the Kentucky Oaks: Unlimited Budget (160) and Dreaming of Julia (132). There are still four 100-point races remaining, though, including three this coming weekend (Grade 1 Ashland, Grade 2 Gazelle, and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks), as well as the Grade 3 Fantasy on April 10.

Just about wherever you looked this weekend, Todd Pletcher horses were winning. In addition to Revolutionary and the two aforementioned fillies, his sprinter Travelin Man repeated his 2012 victory in Gulfstream’s Sir Shackleton Stakes, while his 4-year-old filly Ciao Bella got her first graded stakes win, capturing the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes in wire-to-wire fashion. At Fair Grounds, he followed up his Oaks win with Grade 1 Donn Handicap victor Graydar’s triumphant return in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, defeating the gutsy Mark Valeski by nearly two lengths. Donn runner-up Bourbon Courage was third.

It was not all Todd Pletcher this weekend, though. In addition to his second-place finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks with Flashy Gray, Bill Mott captured the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Handicap over the Fair Grounds’ turf with Amira’s Prince, unbeaten in four starts since arriving in the U.S. last December. Second-choice Optimizer lacked the necessary response, finishing fifth, just behind the third-choice, Doubles Partner. With 10-1 Willcox Inn and nearly 27-1 String King running second and third, respectively, the odds-on favorite on top merited a $434.20 trifecta payout for a $2 investment. Mott also won the Grade 3 Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream, as his Cigar Street drew clear late to win over early front-runner Take Charge Indy, winner of last year’s Florida Derby. 2011 Louisiana Derby winner Pants on Fire finished a distant third.

Two other graded stakes were contested over Gulfstream’s turf course. In the 12-furlong Grade 3 Orchid Stakes, Michelle Nihei’s impressive 4-year-old filly Regalo Mia followed up her victory in the Sunshine Millions’ Filly and Mare Turf with another come-from-behind win, this time over Team Valor’s Italian-bred Angegreen, a filly who has yet to break through for Graham Motion after beginning her career in Italy. Last year’s Woodbine Oaks winner (and runner-up in the Queen’s Plate) Irish Mission was just a nose behind Angegreen in third. Christophe Clement’s favorite Aigue Marine failed to challenge late and finished seventh. Two races later, Clement’s post-time favorite Za Approval didn’t disappoint, reversing his performance last out against Beaux Choix and winning the Grade 3 Appleton Stakes. After leading much of the race, former claimer-turned Grade 1 runner-up King Kreesa faded, but still came in third.

Keep up with all the racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!


Last Week’s Races


2013 Gulfstream Park Oaks Replay
Dreaming of Julia puts the rest of the field to sleep.


This video must be viewed at YouTube


2013 Florida Derby Replay
Orb wins decisively.


This video must be viewed at YouTube


2013 Fair Grounds Oaks Replay
Unlimited Budget remains undefeated.


Video courtesy of Partymanners


2013 Louisiana Derby Replay
Revolutionary shows his fighting spirit for the win.


Video courtesy of Partymanners


2013 Orchid Stakes Replay
Regalo Mia pulls the upset.


This video must be viewed at YouTube


2013 Rampart Stakes Replay
Ciao Bella says “see ya later” to the field.


This video must be viewed at YouTube


2013 Appleton Stakes Replay
Za Approval holds off Beaux Choix.


This video must be viewed at YouTube


2013 Skip Away Stakes Replay
Cigar Street draws clear for the win.


This video must be viewed at YouTube


2013 New Orleans Handicap Replay
Graydar battles for the win.


Video courtesy of Partymanners


2013 Dubai World Cup Replay
Animal Kingdom takes the world by storm.


Video courtesy of Racing Dubai


2013 Dubai Sheema Classic Replay
St. Nicholas Abbey powers home.


Video courtesy of Racing Dubai


2013 Dubai Duty Free Replay
Sahjaa gets through on the rail.


Video courtesy of Racing Dubai


2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen Replay
Reynaldothewizard holds on.


Video courtesy of Racing Dubai


2013 Al Quoz Sprint Replay
Shea Shea wins it from the far outside.


Video courtesy of Racing Dubai


2013 UAE Derby Replay
Lines of Battle is Kentucky Derby bound.


Video courtesy of Racing Dubai


2013 Dubai Gold Cup Replay
Cavalryman charges home.


Video courtesy of Racing Dubai


2013 Godolphin Mile Replay
Soft Falling Rain runs down Moonwalk in Paris.


Video courtesy of Racing Dubai

Download Brisnet.com Results Charts
2013 Appleton Stakes Chart
2013 Fair Grounds Oaks Chart
2013 Florida Derby Chart
2013 Gulfstream Park Oaks Chart
2013 Louisiana Derby Chart
2013 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap Chart
2013 New Orleans Handicap Chart
2013 Orchid Stakes Chart
2013 Rampart Stakes Chart
2013 Skip Away Stakes Chart

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