Week of July 11, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

Close calls and photo finishes were the hallmark of last weekend with many races coming down to the wire. Two of the three Grade 1 races were exciting photo finishes and they certainly were not the only ones! Recent and not so recent European imports also fared well this weekend.

At Belmont Park, Irish invader Cape Blanco denied current US reigning turf champion Gio Ponti his third straight win in the Grade 1 Man o’War. The 2010 Irish Derby winner, making his first start in the U.S., did not let a lost shoe deter him. No word on whether he’ll point to additional U.S. starts, such as the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Gio Ponti is likely heading to the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 13 according to trainer Christophe Clement.

At Arlington Park the Arlington Million Preview day saw two winners break dry spells and one take the second leg of a racing series. Tajaaweed, broke a seven race losing streak in the Arlington Handicap, a race he’s been pointed towards since last fall. His next race will be the Arlington Million on Aug 13. Prior to the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap, Fantasia had run three game efforts for second and third place since her last win in the ungraded River Memorial Stakes at Woodbine. But she put it all together scoring her first graded win in the U.S., ending Wasted Tears three race winning streak. Her next stop might be the Beverly D on Arlington Million Day (Aug 13). Wilcox Inn is also likely to make his next start on Arlington Million Day in the Secretariat Stakes, the third leg of the Mid-America Triple. His win in the American Derby brought him one race closer to being only the fourth horse to take the honor.

At Cader’s Summit of Speed, Sassy Image turned in a jaw dropping performance, coming from 15 lengths off the pace to take the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Stakes on the wire. The Dale Romans trainee has now won three graded sprints in a row including two Grade 1’s and will make her next stop in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga on Aug 27 on her way to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs in November. New York bred Giant Ryan notched his fifth straight win in the Grade 2 Smile Stakes, denying favorite Noble’s Promise. His next stop might be the Grade 1 Vosburgh on the way to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November. Indiano dominated the well-regarded Grade 2 Carry Back field and scored his first graded win in the U.S., his next stop is likely to be the Grade 2 Amsterdam or the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga. Local Devilish Lady stepped up her game, also scoring her first graded win in the Grade 3 Azalea Stakes defeating May Day Rose, who finished a lackluster fourth. Devilish Lady may make her next appearance at Saratoga but no race has been mentioned.

At Delaware Park the fast closing second place finisher St. John’s River in the Kentucky Oaks (replay) got there in time in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks, barely! After running the beginning of the race at the back of the pack, the even-money favorite had to push her way through at the top of the stretch to get the room to run down the leader. No word on what’s next for St. John’s River.

The road to the Breeders’ Cup Classic officially got under way at Hollywood Park with the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup. In a division that’s up for grabs the California contingent seems to have the strongest players in first three finishers: First Dude, Game on Dude and Twirling Candy. Twirling Candy and Game on Dude battled gamely down the stretch but it was First Dude who sat behind the two and got up to defeat his stablemate on the wire. All three are possible for the Grade 1 Pacific Classic on Aug 28 at Del Mar. The next Breeders’ Cup Classic challenge race is the July 30 Haskell at Monmouth Park.

This week coming weekend the Distaff division heats up with what looks to be a rematch of last year’s Delaware Oaks top two finishers, Blind Luck and Havre de Grace in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap. The field might also include last year’s winner Life at Ten. Find out more the history of the Delaware Handicap in our Ten Things You Should Know. Also upcoming is the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park featuring 3-year-old fillies going a mile and quarter on the turf.

Keep with racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!

Last Week’s Races

2011 Man o’War Replay
Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco denies Gio Ponti his third win the Man o’War.

2011 Princess Rooney Handicap Replay
Sassy Image comes from an astonishing 15 lengths off the pace to prove that she can win on the road.

2011 Delaware Oaks Replay
St. John’s River comes from last to first, and apparently gets a new name half way through the race!

2011 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes Replay
Favorite Cheetah hangs at the back and sneaks through on the wire.

2011 Swaps Stakes Replay
Dreamy Kid nails Coil on the wire.

2011 Hollywood Gold Cup Replay
Game on Dude disposes of Twirling Candy but stable mate First Dude nips him on the wire.

2011 Dance Smartly Replay
Never Retreat lived up to her name as she dug in to take the Dance Smartly.

Upcoming Graded Stakes Races

Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker

See you at the track!

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