Week of May 23, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
Preakness Saturday saw its share of thrilling stretch duels, and not only at Pimlico. At Belmont Park Awesome Maria battled Absinthe Minded down the stretch to win the Shuvee. At Hollywood Park St. Trinians dueled with Ultra Blend to finish first but was DQ’d and placed fourth. On the Preakness card it was Ventana over Immortal Eyes in the Maryland Sprint Handicap and Apart over Colizeo in the William Donald Schaefer.
There were also several of stalk and pounce victories: May Day Rose in the Railbird at Hollywood Park, Workin for Hops in the Hanshin Cup at Arlington Park, Super Espresso in the Allaire DuPont Distaff, No Explaining in the Gallorette and Paddy O’Prado in the Dixie.
Many races featured heavy favorites with a mixed bag of results. In the under-performed column there was Life At Ten, who came in third in the Allaire DuPont Distaff and Shared Account didn’t hit the board in the Gallorette. In the performed to odds column there was Ventana in the Maryland Sprint Handicap, Apart in the Shaefer and Paddy O’Prado in the Dixie Stakes.
Paddy O’Prado was making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup in the fall and overcame a very wide trip to run down a game Baryshnikov. He came out of the race with a foot bruise
but it did not appear to be serious. UPDATE: Paddy O’Prado was retired.
Breeders’ Cup Mile three-peater Goldikova also kicked off her 6-year-old campaign by winning her 13th Group or Grade 1 race in the Prix dâ€™Ispahan at Longchamp. Trainer Freddie Head did not confirm if her next start would be the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.
Shackleford looked like a horse who was leaving his race in the warm-up for the Preakness as he was extraordinarily sweaty and worked up. He broke well and went right to the front to duel with Flash Point through a blazing first quarter but ultimately eased off just enough to give Flash Point the lead. The winner took the lead going into the stretch but Animal Kingdom, who was sitting mid-pack, was winding up much like he did in the Derby. For a moment it looked like Animal Kingdom would get there, and his almost did, but Shackleford never gave up and held on to win it.
Everyone seems to have come out of the Preakness OK. Oddly Mucho Macho Man lost a shoe for a second time! Most of the Preakness runners will not go on to the Belmont with Midnight Interlude and Mr. Commons likely to try the turf; King Congie might point towards the Virgina Derby, also on turf; Dance City will get ready for Saratoga and Flash Point will spend the rest of the year in sprints.
While nothing is certain, the connections of both Shackleford and Animal Kingdom are mulling a rematch in the Belmont Stakes on June 11. Others who are expected in the Belmont from the Derby are Nehro (2nd place), Master of Hounds (4th place), Santiva (6th place) as well as Jaycito, Alternation and Anthony’s Cross.
Next weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and turf racing is starting to pick up momentum. Get ready for summer turf racing with our Introduction to Turf Pedigree article! We also have a Ten Things You Should Know About for the upcoming Met Mile at Belmont Park and we’ll be publishing a new one for the Grade 1 Gamely at Hollywood Park.
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!