Week of August 22, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
Much of this weekend was focused on 3-year-old fillies as three validated prior good form, one stepped up, one got stuck in traffic and one made it 22 in a row!
Royal Delta proved that her prior good form in the Black-Eyed Susan (replay) was no fluke as she surged past It’s Tricky and Plum Pretty in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. Winning trainer Bill Mott considered running her in Sunday’s Grade 2 Lake Placid on turf, as she’s won over synthetic and has trained well on turf but noted that her options are now wide open. She’s likely to try older fillies and mares next out in either the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park on Oct 1 or the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland over the polytrack. It’s Tricky, who ended up second, will point to the Grade 2 Cotillion at Parx on Oct 1 on her way to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
At Del Mar, Summer Soiree also validated her prior good form by shipping in to notch her first Grade 1 in the Del Mar Oaks over the turf. Team Valor, owners of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, purchased Summer Soiree after her 10 length domination in the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks (replay) at Turfway Park in the spring over the all weather track. Her next start was the Kentucky Oaks (replay) where she finished 10th but went to turf in her next race, Grade 3 Boiling Springs Stakes (replay) at Monmouth Park, and won by eight and half lengths. The Del Mar Oaks also marked the first start for trainer Graham Motion and jockey Gabriel Saez. No word on what’s next for Summer Soiree.
On Sunday 3-year-old filly turf sensation Winter Memories was off the board, finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga thanks to traffic trouble in the stretch. Hungry Island, an improving Shug McGaughey trainee, stepped up to take the honors with an impressive wide move and fast closing kick. Kathmanblu, who at one time was considered a prime Kentucky Oaks contender, also validated her prior good form by putting in a solid performance for second. The Grade 1 Garden City Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept 17 is the next target for Hungry Island.
It’s the time of the year when 2-year-olds, or juveniles as they are frequently referred to, are out in full force. We’ll include replays of notable debuts that surface. This week, a full brother to Sidney’s Candy, Sweet Swap, made a smashing debut at Del Mar while Sister Moon broke the track record for five and half furlongs, previously held by Sidney’s Candy. At Saratoga Fantastic Song put in a eye-catching run from the back of the pack to last first in 1 1/16 mile turf debut.
At Emerald Downs local favorite Noosa Beach tried to become the third horse to win back to back renditions of the race but it was Awesome Gem, who ran second in the race two years ago, who took the honors this year. And finally, harness racing’s super filly, See You At Peelers kept her perfect record in tact in by winning her 22nd race! No word on her next start but standardbreds race much more frequently than thoroughbreds so we will probably see her again in the near future.
Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, who ran 1-2 in last year’s Alabama Stakes (replay) will not meet up next week in the Personal Ensign, but are likely to take on males on different coasts. Havre de Grace is confirmed for the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes on Sept 3 at Saratoga while Blind Luck may start in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic next weekend at Del Mar. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said that she might go to the Grade 1 Lady’s Secret on October 1 at Santa Anita instead. Game on Dude and Twirling Candy who ran second and third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup (replay) are expected in the Pacific Classic along with a host of others. First Dude, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup, was retired after the victory due to an injury.
Saratoga heats up next weekend with its marquee event, the Grade 1 Travers for 3-year-old colts. Likely starters include Grade 1 Preakness winner Shackleford (replay), Grade 1 Haskell winner Coil (replay), Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler on Ice (replay) and Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner Stay Thirsty (replay), among others. In the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, Uncle Mo is set to make his first start since running third in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial (replay) but The Factor is staying in California for the Pat O’Brien, taking a bit of the luster off one of the only Grade 1 sprints for 3-year-olds males. Nonetheless Uncle Mo will have his work cut out for him as he’s faces a cast of late-bloomers with recent graded wins: Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes winner Caleb’s Posse (replay), Grade 2 Woody Stephens winner Justin Phillip (replay), Grade 3 Jersey Shore winner Flashpoint (replay) along with others. There are several other graded stakes on the Travers under card, coverage on NBC starts at 5pm ET!
Other Grade 1 races next weekend include the seven furlong Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar, the seven furlong Ballerina at Saratoga on Travers day and the 1 1/4 mile Personal Ensign on Sunday at Saratoga. We’ll feature a profile of Personal Ensign, who capped off her perfect career with one of the most dramatic Breeders’ Cup finishes in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff but nipping Winning Colors, the 1988 Kentucky Derby winner, on the wire. We currently have a Ten Things You Should Know for the Personal Ensign and King’s Bishop, and we’ll do a new one this week for the Pacific Classic!
NBC Sports scheduled coverage of Saratoga:
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!