Week of July 25, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
Summer racing swung into high gear as Del Mar and Saratoga kicked off their meets.
At Del Mar, former Kentucky Derby hopeful Mr. Commons made a successful switch back to turf in the Oceanside Stakes. He broke his maiden on the turf at Santa Anita in January of this year, and ran in eighth in the Preakness last out, no word what’s next. Acclamation continued his turf stakes domination by easily wiring the Grade 1 Eddie Read, a race he ran sixth in last year. Last out he won the Charles Whittingham and Jim Murray, races he also won last year, but he shipped east last year to finish ninth in the United Nations before heading home for the Eddie Read. His next stop will be the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap on Aug 28 and ultimately the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov 5 at Churchill Downs.
Saratoga kicked off its meet with budding star Georgie’s Angel in the Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies. The last out maiden winner looked like a pro staking a ludicrous pace and holding off a closing True Feelings, but her two main threats with stakes experience, Flashy Lassie and Five Star Momma, scratched out of the race. She’ll have to wait to until the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes on September 4 to take on more battle tested company. On Sunday the connections of Uncle Mo unleashed Overdriven in the Grade 3 Sanford for 2-year-old colts. The winner looked professional staking the pace and pulling away from Power World, who ran second in the Bashford Manor last out, but the team was quick to point that Overdriven and Uncle Mo are very different. The Grade 1 Hopeful on September 5 is his next goal.
Saturday all eyes were on the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies as NBC Sports kicked off their Summer at Saratoga coverage. While the field only had five entries, all of them were graded winners. Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty sprung out of the gate and looked as though she might wire it when Grade 1 Acorn winner, It’s Tricky, challenged and a stretch duel ensued. Both fought gamely but it was It’s Tricky who prevailed. The winner is likely to go on the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Aug 23, no word on what’s next for the rest of the field.
NBC Sports scheduled coverage of Saratoga:
Sat July 30: Diana Stakes & Jim Dandy Stakes – Versus
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
The highlight of next weekend is Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, which is likely to feature Preakness winner Shackleford, Belmont Stakes winner Ruler on Ice, Pants on Fire and others as the 3-year-old colts start the second half of their year. Also for 3-year-old colts, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga is likely to draw Brilliant Speed, Alternation, Stay Thirsty and others. Aviate and Aruna are likely to meet again the in the Grade 1 Diana for older turf females and Smiling Tiger seems to have scared off other sprinters in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby.
This week we’ll take a look at the Ruffian Handicap in Ten Things You Should Know About. We also already have a Ten Things for the Haskell Invitational. Later in the week we’ll also roll out the first of our new feature, Track Guides. Our Track Guides will aim to give you a profile of a track as well tips and tricks to ensure you have a great visit… or that you want to visit after reading the Track Guide! Our first one is Saratoga, rated our Favorite Summer Track for the second year in a row!
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!