Week of May 13, 2013
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
Freedom Child rebounded from his last-out Wood Memorial misadventure with a dominating victory over a sloppy Belmont track in the 1-1/8 miles Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes. The Malibu Moon ridgling went straight to the lead and never looked back, extending his advantage in the stretch to win by over 13 lengths. Well-bred Saint Vigeur finished second, 2-1/4 lengths ahead of 16-1 longshot Go Get the Basil who nosed out post-time favorite Abraham for third. Closing nicely late along the rail to finish fifth was Incognito, son of A.P. Indy out of 1-1/2 miles Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks winner Octaveâ€”a colt obviously bred to run all day.
But on Saturday it was all about Freedom Child. His victory was certainly a vindication of his connectionsâ€™ high expectations that, unfortunately, had taken a hit during the running of the Grade 1 Wood Memorial where he lost any chance as he was still being held by the starter when the starting gate opened; he was declared a non-starter in that event. On Saturday, he went off the 7-2 second choice, no doubt due to his excellent form as a juvenile against both Orb and Revolutionary. Heâ€™s likely to see the two of them again in the June 8 Belmont Stakes, according to his connections.
Of course, we canâ€™t look beyond the Preakness Stakes which will be run this coming Saturday, May 18. Post positions will be drawn on Wednesday so the field isnâ€™t set yet, but Normandy Invasion will not be among the entrants. His connections have said they will instead point him towards a summer campaign that includes either the July 27 Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes or the July 28 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, before the August 24 Grade 1 Travers Stakes. Those likely to challenge Kentucky Derby winner Orb at Pimlico include Derby also-rans Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday, Mylute, Oxbow, Vyjack and Will Take Charge, along with Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie, Illinois Derby winner Departing and maiden winner Titletown Five.
On Friday, the 1-1/8 miles Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for the 89th time, and the likely post-time favorite will be Grade 1 Ashland victress Emollient who demolished a 13-horse field in that event. At Pimlico, sheâ€™ll face eight contestants, including Grade 3 Fantasy runner-up Manuka Honey; Ruthless winner Lady Banks; Grade 1 Las Virgenes runner-up Fiftyshadesofhay; Grade 2 Gazelle third-place finisher Walkwithapurpose; Grade 2 Bourbonette Oaks runner-up Marathon Lady; and Grade 1 Frizette third-place finisher Toasting, along with allowance winners Petit Trianon and Maracuya.
Besides the Peter Pan, the week between the Derby and Preakness came up light in terms of stakes action. In the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes at Hollywood, the 3-5 favorite Scarlet Strike was upset by Euro invader Charlie Em, a filly making her first American start for trainer Paddy Gallagher. Sheâ€™ll likely next appear in the June 8 Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap, a prep race for the July 13 Grade 1 American Oaks. At Woodbine on Sunday, only four challengers took on heavily-favored Delegation, a Speightstown gelding who finished third in last yearâ€™s Grade 1 Breedersâ€™ Cup Dirt Mile. Although well-positioned just off the front-running Don Cavallo early, Delegation could not get by 14-1 Alpha Bettor when that 5-year-old campaigner slipped past him along the rail and held on to win by a neck. A head back of Delegation in third-place was topweight James Street. Although visually it may not have appeared to have been a quickly run race, the winning time for the 1-1/16 miles over the Polytrack (1:42.69) was just a tick off the track record (1:42.22).
There were two lesser stakes of note on Sunday, both was some interesting competitors.
At Belmont, the Albert the Great Stakes was captured by 3-4 favorite Percussion who outdueled Fast Falcon in an exciting stretch run. Coming off a distant fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic (where he led much of the early going), Percussion definitely enjoyed some class relief here, although Fast Falcon had the back class (including a narrow third-place finish in last yearâ€™s Grade 1 Travers) to suggest he could be a strong threat. A very distant third (nearly 14 lengths back) was 7-year-old Birdrun, the one-time Breedersâ€™ Cup Marathon runner-up making his first appearance since his horrific run in last Juneâ€™s Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap.
Over Hollywoodâ€™s turf course, 6-year-old Dhaamer successfully defended his title in the 1-1/2 miles Round Table Stakes. The 7-year-old veteran Lime Rickey (making his 40th career start) got up for second, with lightly-raced Niagara Falls in third. It was another 6-1/4 lengths back to one of the two mares entered in the race, Little Emily; the other, Chilean Grade 1 winner Madera Castana, finished a distant last. Dhaamer appears on track for a start in the Sunset Handicap on July 14, the closing day of the current summer meet. This week it was announced that, after 75 years of racing history, Hollywood Park will close at the end of 2013, to make way for a retail and housing development.
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Video courtesy of NYRA
Video courtesy of Hollywood Park
Video courtesy of Woodbine
Video courtesy of NYRA
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