Week of June 24, 2013
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

A proliferation of upsets highlighted the week, with the failure of heavy favorites and a Derby winner retired on a losing note.

In the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes, many were willing to forgive Dreaming of Julia for her disappointing fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks—they made her the 1-5 favorite. Alas, nothing went right for the daughter of Dream Rush, as it appears she’s lost her nerve when it comes to racing in close quarters. At one point, she was shuffled back to last in the short field of five, yet despite not seeming like herself, she did get up late to finish second. However, no one was beating Close Hatches who looked incredibly strong, accelerating with ease when asked by jockey Joel Rosario, winning by over 7 lengths. Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan runner-up Marathon Lady finished a half length behind Dreaming of Julia in third, while early leader Toasting faded to a distant fourth, over 8 lengths back of Marathon Lady. Sister State was last. Next up for Close Hatches may be Saratoga’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 20, the likely next start for Dreaming of Julia as well.

Much like the Mother Goose, the 1 1/16 miles Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks didn’t draw a large field of 3-year-old fillies—and the 4-5 post-time favorite was a bit of a surprise, given that she’s nearly solely been raced in state-bred company. Still, Doinghardtimeagain had no problem handling this field, winning as the 119-pound top-weight over Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks runner-up Iotapa and last-out allowance winner Ondine. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has said that he may run Doinghardtimeagain out of state next, in the July 13 Delaware Oaks.

A future star in the making made her stakes debut a winning one in Churchill Downs’ down-graded Debutante Stakes on Friday. After destroying a field of 10 in winning her maiden effort—by 10 lengths—at Lone Star Park, Fiftyshadesofgold was made the 6-5 favorite against 10 other juvenile fillies, all winners. She didn’t disappoint her backers, drawing off to win by 8 lengths over More Than Beauty, the only filly to really challenge her. The second-choice in the field was Teardrop, a three-quarter sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Pyro; she raced up close early on, but faded in the stretch to finish in seventh-place.

Another juvenile filly to watch is Conquest Whiplash. In her maiden effort on Saturday she defeated five male competitors in winning the 5-furlong Victoria Stakes at Woodbine—going directly to the lead, she was never challenged and accomplished her nearly 3-length victory under a strong hand ride. She’s definitely one to watch.

The rest of the week’s major action was on turf, particularly at Colonial Downs on Saturday. In the non-graded Da Hoss Stakes, Grade 2 winner Hudson Steele made his first start since last July’s Grade 1 Man o’War Stakes—and it was a winning one for the now 6-year-old old as he hung on to win by a neck over New Zealand-bred Hoofit. Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano also teamed up to win the Grade 3 All Along Stakes with Channel Lady, although she didn’t go off as the favorite. That role went to Appealing Cat who finished third last-out in the Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap. Although she was prominent early on, Appealing Cat gave way in the stretch, finishing a disappointing fifth. Running on-pace early, Channel Lady surged to the lead late, winning by a length over wily veteran Idle Talk, a 7-year-old East Coast fixture making her 41st lifetime start. It was another 2 lengths back to last year’s All Along runner-up, Clare Skies Ahead.

The biggest upset of the weekend occurred in the 1 3/16 miles Grade 2 Colonial Turf Cup where 3-2 favorite Atigun came in off an impressive runner-up performance in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap. Others who looked promising included last year’s Colonial Turf Cup runner-up Air Support and multiple Grade 3 winner Swift Warrior, coming in off a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico. After battling Two Notch Road early on, Swift Warrior was able to hang on for third, just a head back of runner-up Hyper, but Atigun and Air Support were non-factors. The surprising winner: 50-1 longshot London Lane, a Maryland-bred son of Langfuhr who’s rarely found the winner’s circle, but certainly shone brightly this day as he came roaring up the outside from dead-last to win by nearly a length.

On Sunday at Woodbine, the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes came down to a blanket finish, one in which the favorite and defending stakes victor Riding the River prevailed by a head in a photo with Valentino Beauty. 2010 Queen’s Plate runner-up Hotep made a nice late run to get up for third, a neck in front of 34-1 longshot So Long George.

Internationally, a lot happened this week, including three “Win-and-You’re-In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. The Argentine Grade 2 Clasico Belgrano served as a platform for last year’s Marathon winner Calidoscopio—this year’s contest was upset by 28-1 Ever Rider, a 4-year-old Rider Stripes colt whose connections have already indicated they plan to accept their Marathon invitation.

Spots in the Breeders’ Cup Turf were offered to the winners of the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen in Japan and the French Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. In the former, 2012 Japanese Horse of the Year and race-time favorite Gentildonna could only manage a third-place finish, nearly 4 lengths back of the winner Gold Ship, last year’s champion 3-year-old colt. In the latter, one of the world’s top rated horses, Cirrus Des Aigles could manage only a fifth-place finish in his 2013 debut (admittedly an admirable effort considering it was his first start since suffering an ligament injury late last year). Aussie-raced Dunaden, winner of the 2011 Melbourne Cup and 2012 Caulfield Cup, managed a strong runner-up finish, but the winner was Novellist, last year’s victor of the Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club Italiano.

The career finale of Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom turned out to be a dud, as the 5-4 favorite finished a disappointing 11th in the English Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday. The winner, Declaration of War, does have some American connections, however—his dam is a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. Trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Joel Rosario teamed up to give the U.S. a Royal Ascot winner in No Nay Never, a juvenile son of Scat Daddy who beautifully broke his maiden at first-asking at Keeneland back in April. On Thursday, he captured the English Group 2 Norfolk Stakes in record-setting fashion. The plan is to keep him in training at Keeneland and ship back to Europe in August for the French Group 1 Prix Morny.

From the tragic collapse of the late Sir Henry Cecil’s colt Thomas Chippendale after his victory in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes to the impressive 4-length victory of Sky Lantern in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes, it was an eventful Royal Ascot meet, to be sure. Undoubtedly one of the purest moments of joy was the filly Estimate’s win in the Group 1 Gold Cup—her owner is the first reigning monarch to win this race in its more than 200 year history, Her Majesty the Queen.

Keep up with all the racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!

Last Week’s Races

2013 Hollywood Oaks Replay
Doinghardtimeagain gains control early and never looks back.

Video courtesy of Hollywood Park

2013 Mother Goose Stakes Replay
Close Hatches proves her Gazelle win was not a fluke.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2013 King Edward Stakes Replay
The photo finish goes to Riding the River.

Video courtesy of Woodbine

2013 Norfolk Stakes Ascot Replay
American invader No Neigh Never misses the break and still comes on to win.

Video courtesy of Racing Post

2013 Queen Anne Stakes Ascot Replay
1 ends his career off the board while Declaration of War wins impressively.

Video courtesy of Racing Post

2013 Ascot Gold Cup Replay
Estimate guts out a win for the Queen.

Video courtesy of Racing Post

2013 Classico General Belgrano
Ever Rider takes them all the way, holding off the charge of Sunny Rex.

Race starts at 1:45

Video courtesy of Handicappers Channel

2013 Takarazuka Kinen Replay
Gold Ship emerges victorious.

Download Brisnet.com Results Charts
2013 All Along Stakes Chart
2013 Colonial Turf Cup Chart
2013 Debutante Stakes Chart
2013 Hollywood Oaks Chart
2013 Mother Goose Stakes Chart

Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker

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Charts and PPs provided by Brisnet