Week of July 16, 2012
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Turf racing dominated the graded stakes action this weekend – ruled by the late Dynaformer who sired three of the winners – but there were also several impressive performances on dirt including a sprinter set on making her third attempt at Breeders’ Cup glory, and a filly defeating the boys in the second jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown.

In the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes (chart), Point of Entry (Dynaformer) rewarded trainer Shug McGaughey’s patience with a terrific win over frontrunner Center Divider. The half brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Pine Island (who tragically had to be euthanized after breaking down during the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Distaff), Point of Entry captured his first Grade 1 with Jose Lezcano replacing the injured John Velasquez. Rosie Napravnik kept Center Divider on for second, followed by Tahoe Lake and Newsdad – all four came out of Keeneland’s Grade 2 Elkhorn, making that a key form race. Last year’s Grade 1 Irish Derby victor Treasure Lake was made the post-time favorite, but the Euro invader ended up a non-factor.

The other two Dynaformer winners were Bill Mott-trained Starformer who led wire-to-wire in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park, and Chris Block-trainee Ioya Bigtime who shocked the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes Stakes (chart) at Arlington, at 41-1. Grand old 12-year-old Musketier ran on late to get second in the Stars and Stripes (in his 48th career start), holding on to defeat Ioya Bigtime‘s stablemate Suntracer.

The Arlington Million Preview card also included the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap (chart), won by 6-year-old Romacaca who gamely battled runner-up Snow Top Mountain down the stretch. Recent Grade 3 Arlington Matron victress (and post-time favorite) Upperline finished third. With new jockey Joel Rosario aboard, 8-year-old veteran Rahystrada shirked his traditional stalking style, instead taking the lead immediately and never looking back in capturing the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap (chart) – a race he last won in 2010. Just a neck back in second was recent Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap third-place finisher Boisterous; last year’s Arlington Handicap runner-up Mister Marti Gras came in third. Dale Romans continued his magical year, winning the Grade 3 American Derby (chart) with Cozzetti in a blanket finish, with allowance winner All Stormy running second, just a neck back, and a mere head in front of D. Wayne Lukas’ Skyring who was just a half length ahead of post-time favorite Daddy Nose Best (Scat Daddy).

While that son of Scat Daddy was unable to get the job done, his daughter Lady of Shamrock received the perfect rail ride from Mike Smith in winning the Grade 1 American Oaks (chart) at Hollywood Park. One race later, two-time Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint runner-up Switch rallied from last to win the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap (chart) with Garrett Gomez aboard, and thus gain automatic entry into this year’s Breeders’ Cup.

The other Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race this weekend (for the Marathon) was the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup (chart) at Parx, won in a new track record time by Redeemed, last out winner of the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap.

Two late scratches left only a field of five to contest the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks (chart), but as they entered the stretch, there was no question of Grace Hall‘s superiority, as the daughter of Empire Maker went on to win by nearly four lengths over Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks third-place finisher Via Villaggio. Grade 2 Fantasy runner-up Amie’s Dini ran third.

The other big 3-year-old event was the Prince of Wales Stakes (chart) at Fort Erie, the second race (and only one on dirt) in the Canadian Triple Crown. The Queen’s Plate victor Strait of Dover skipped this event, but the next four finishers all made an appearance, including the two fillies who ran second and third, Irish Mission and Dixie Strike. While Irish Mission was sent off as the favorite, it was the other filly, Dixie Strike, who came roaring down the stretch to win by a length over Ultimate Destiny. A half sister to last year’s Queen’s Plate winning filly Inglorious, Dixie Strike passed Grade 1 Travers runner-up Grasshopper as her sire Dixie Union‘s third-highest earner with her Prince of Wales’ winnings.

Injuries led to the retirement to stud of Caleb’s Posse, and sent Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags to the sidelines for at least the rest of 2012. As for the remaining 3-year-olds, the beat goes on. The Grade 1 Haskell Invitational lost a major contender when Bodemeister spiked a fever on Saturday, but gained his stablemate Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter in his stead, and possibly Hansen (who had been aiming for the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby) and Gemologist. Dullahan is already confirmed for the July 29 event at Monmouth.

Looking forward, the boutique summer meets at Del Mar (Wednesday, July 18) and Saratoga (Friday, July 20) open this week.

Last Week’s Races

2012 Man o’War Stakes Replay
Point of Entry runs away with it.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Delaware Oaks Replay
Grace Hall is a cut above the rest

2012 Greenwood Handicap Replay
Redeemed sets the track record.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 American Oaks Replay
Lady of Shamrock gets through on the rail.

Video courtesy of Hollywood Park

2012 A Gleam Handicap Replay
Switch circles the field and runs them down.

Video courtesy of Hollywood Park

2012 Sunset Handicap Replay
Dhaamer closes out the Hollywood Park meet with an easy win.

Video courtesy of Hollywood Park

Upcoming Graded Stakes Races

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