Week of September 12, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
It was a relatively quiet weekend as the non-stop pace of the summer slowly transitioned to fall.
Del Mar closed out its summer meet on Wednesday with Joel Rosario becoming the first jockey since the legendary Bill Shoemaker to win three consecutive riding titles (Shoemaker won four from 1951-54). Bob Baffert won his 10th Del Mar Futurity, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race, with Drill, who apparently was not even nominated for the Breeders’ Cup. Apparently this came as a surprise to his connections in the post-race interview! Regardless, the son of Lawyer Ron was impressive, as he didn’t let a large amount of bumping in the stretch shake his resolve. The Grade 1 Norfolk on October 1st at Santa Anita is Drill’s next target.
Two grass veterans regained their form in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap and Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf. The fall season got underway at Belmont Park with Grassy holding off the top three finishers from the John’s Call Stakes (replay) in the Bowling Green. Last year’s Grade 2 Red Smith at Aqueduct (replay) was the last time Grassy saw the winner’s circle. His next stop is likely to be Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont on Oct 1. 7-year-old Rahystrada took the Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs with ease, scoring his first graded win of the year and second stakes win. Last out he was fifth in the Grade 1 Arlington Million (replay). The win also served as jockey Greta Kuntzweiler’s 500th career win. No word on what’s next for this veteran but with $941,904 in earnings his connections are hoping to make at least more start this year to try to surpass the one million mark.
Prayer for Relief put himself on the path to the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his win in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. This marked his third straight Derby win (Super Derby, West Virginia Derby and the Iowa Derby) bringing his record for the year to 4-4. Trainer Bob Baffert said he would train the Prayer for Relief up the Breeders’ Cup instead of making another start.
At Arlington Park juveniles were in the spotlight with a pair of one mile Grade 3 races: the Arlington Washington Lassie for fillies and Arlington Washington Futurity. The races were markedly different with a longshot winner, Rocket Twentyone taking the Lassie and the third choice Shared Property nipping the favorite the Futurity. Shared Property is likely for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct 8 and Rocket Twentyone might point to the Oct 7 Alcibiades at Keeneland or something at Churchill Downs. Florida shipper Musical Romance upset the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters in a blanket finish. Not nominated for the Breeders’ Cup, her connections are going to Keeneland for her next start.
Next weekend’s graded races are all on the turf, with the Grade 1 Garden City for older females at Belmont Park, the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and Northern Dancer at Woodbine. Woodbine also features a pair of juvenile Breeders’ Cup Challenge turf races. Get ready for all the grassy action with our look at Turf Pedigree handicapping. Also, find out why Northern Dancer is revered as the greatest sire of all time, and how you can incorporate that into your handicapping! Later in the week we’ll take a look at the Woodbine Mile in Ten Things. We’ve also got a special new feature rolling out later in the week, stay tuned!
Keep with all the racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!
(race starts around 3:33)
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!