Week of August 1, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
There was plenty of racing across multiple divisions this weekend, including the 3-year-old colts who kicked of the second half of their year. But perhaps the biggest story was that thoroughbred horse racing was nationally broadcast both days of the weekend with the Diana and Jim Dandy on Versus on Saturday and the Haskell Invitational on ABC on Sunday.
Stay Thirsty built on his second place Belmont Stakes finish by authoritatively winning the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga by four lengths. His next stop will be the Travers where hopefully he’ll meet up with some of the Haskell runners. Grade 1 Haskell winner Coil and jockey Martin Garcia, gave trainer Bob Baffert his fifth win in the Haskell. Usually a pace factor, Coil missed the break and ran most of the race at the back of the back, but Garcia didn’t panic or try to hustle him up on the pace. Shackleford put his in his usually gutsy run but Coil proved to be versatile and collared Shackleford for the win while Belmont Stakes winner Ruler on Ice got up for third.
The division still seems to be wide open as Coil missed much of the beginning of the year with an injury and Stay Thirsty will have to build on his win to take divisional honors. One thing is certain, the best 3-year-old colt in training ran last week, and his name is Frankel. The undefeated colt beat the well-regarded 4-year-old Canford Cliffs at Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes. Last time out Canford Cliffs beat superstar mare Goldikova at Royal Ascot. Goldikova also ran last weekend, winning her fourth consecutive Prix de Rothschild at Deauville in France (replay). She’ll be going her fourth Breeders’ Cup Mile this year, and if we’re very lucky, that field will also include Frankel and Canford Cliffs.
In addition to the Haskell, there were several other Breeders’ Cup Challenge races last week. The Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap at Saratoga for 3-year-old and up fillies and mares was a fantastic upset, with 18-1 Ask the Moon, who was claimed just two races ago, making her first start for trainer Marty Wolfson. She wired the field under red hot Javier Castellano and her next stop will be the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug 28. At Del Mar Bourbon Bay won the Grade 2 Cougar II, a challenge race for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, but his connections have decided to keep on him on turf. Former Derby hopeful Tres Borrachos ended his 13 race losing streak and stamped his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. His connections are contemplating the Pacific Classic as a next stop for Tres Borrachos. In the Grade 1 Bing Crosby favorite Smiling Tiger missed the break, but unlike Coil could only manage second behind second choice Euroears, who set a new track record. Both Smiling Tiger and Euroears are pointing toward the Breeders’s Cup Sprint.
Former west coast trainee Sidney’s Candy made his first start for his new connections in the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga. The new Pletcher trainee put away the field by setting a tepid pace and accelerating with ease, bringing his career earnings to $1,043,560. His next stop might be back on dirt in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga on Sept 3. The Grade 1 Diana marked two firsts, winner Zagora’s first win in the U.S. and trainer Chad Brown’s first Grade 1 win. Brown, a local from the Saratoga area, was pleased to have the Diana be his first Grade 1, not only because he grew up near Saratoga, but because his mentor, the late Bobby Frankel, taught him everything he knows about European horses, “He loved the Diana, and we won it a couple of times when I worked for him.” No word on what’s next for Zagora.
This week will feature a profile of 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor. A freshman sire this year, Invasor captured the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic. We’ll profile Breeders’ Cup winners such as Ghostzapper, Personal Ensign and a few others leading up to the Breeders’ Cup. If you missed it last week, also check out our Saratoga Track Guide!
Hello Race Fans will take a bit of holiday this week and head to Saratoga, follow us on Twitter for photos and updates!
NBC Sports scheduled coverage of Saratoga:
Sat Aug 6: Whitney Handicap – Versus
Sun Aug 7: Vanderbilt Handicap – Versus
Sat Aug 13: Sword Dancer – Versus
Sat Aug 20: Alabama – NBC
Sat Aug 27: Travers – NBC
Sat Sept 3: Woodward – Versus
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!