Week of July 22, 2013
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Potential superstars of tomorrow and old favorites alike shined brightly as Saratoga and Del Mar opened their summer meets.

Juvenile fillies took center stage on opening day at the Spa on Friday, culminating in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes where the result was a rare dead heat between gutsy frontrunner Brazen Persuasion (Indian Charlie) and 6-5 post-time favorite Bahnah (Elusive Quality) who courageously made a late arrival to share the honors. Elena Strikes (Smart Strike) finished 1 1/4 lengths back in third, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of her stablemate Yes Liz (Yes It’s True). The other two maiden special weight events for juvenile fillies on Friday’s undercard were captured in eye-catching manner by Repole Stables’ Stopchargingmaria (Tale of the Cat) and the Mark Henning-trained Irish Sweepstakes (Any Given Saturday). Already it appears there are a ton of interesting juvenile fillies out there.

Rosie Napravnik followed up her winning ride on Brazen Persuasion with a victory aboard maiden juvenile Double Gold (Posse) to lead off Sunday’s card. Later, the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes featured the top two finishers from the Grade 3 Bashford Manor—easy winner Debt Ceiling and runner-up Hollywood Talent. The Churchill track was sloppy that day; Saratoga on Sunday was not. Whether that made a difference is debatable, but previously undefeated (and post-time favorite) Debt Ceiling did not factor in this race, finishing dead-last after enduring what his trainer called “a horrible trip.” Hollywood Talent challenged the early lead with 7-1 Wired Bryan, but weakened late to finish third. Running in somewhat erratic fashion down the stretch, Wired Bryan pulled away for the win, a clear 5 1/4 lengths ahead of runner-up Southern Blessing, a Dixie Union colt trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Rosie Napravnik that went off as the longest shot in the field at nearly 24-1. With the New York-bred Stormy Atlantic colt on top, the $2 exacta paid a whopping $254. While it’s doubtful we saw any Kentucky Derby contenders in this race, it was certainly entertaining with the flashy gray swishing his tail across the line.

Royal Delta’s return from Dubai was spoiled by Funny Proposition in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis, but there was no one stopping the big mare this weekend, as the 123-pound topweight took the early lead in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap and never looked back, defeating four contenders by nearly 11 lengths—geared down and, notably, without the aid of Lasix for the first time. The two longest shots in the field—26-1 She’s All In and 23-1 And Why Not—finished second and third, respectively. For Royal Delta, a start in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga on August 25 is next.

Since winning the Grade 2 San Gabriel back in January, Jeranimo has endured two poor efforts—the Grade 1 Turf Classic came up with a yielding turf course which he hated and then he failed to defeat his title in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile most recently. However, the late closer got exactly the fast pace he needed in the 1 1/8 miles Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar on Saturday, and rallied to win by 1 1/2 lengths over another late runner, Vagabond Shoes. Two-time Peruvian Group 1 winner Fly Lexis Fly held on for third.

Surprise Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar made her return to the track on Saturday on winning one, crushing a talented field in Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. Obviously, the 1 1/8 miles distance is exactly what this Majestic Warrior filly likes, as she raced with ease behind the front-runners and was only unleashed as they rounded the final turn, pulling away to win by 6 lengths. Not surprisingly, Grade 1 Frizette runner-up My Happy Face made the early lead. However, it was shocking that she continued to run on well enough to earn second-place honors—she had never raced beyond 1 mile before. The Rodney Dangerfield of 3-year-old fillies, longshot 13-1 Marathon Lady hung on to third, while the post-time favorite Unlimited Budget did not fare well, finishing dead-last (maybe running her in the Belmont Stakes was just not a good idea?). Next up for Princess of Sylmar is likely the Grade 1 Alabama on August 17.

A far less flashy group of 3-year-old fillies contested the Grade 3 Arlington Oaks over the same distance as the Coaching Club American Oaks, also on Saturday, and it was Illinois-bred My Option who prevailed over maiden winner Frivolous. Favored Sky Girl held on for third, while Grade 2 winner Seaneen Girl disappointed in finishing last in the 6-horse field.

Over Del Mar’s turf course, sophomore fillies traveled one mile in Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap. Santa Anita Oaks runner-up Iotapa was the post-time favorite, but she could only manage a third-place finish, 1 1/4 lengths behind runner-up Unusual Way. The winner: 5-1 Wishing Gate, an Indian Charlie filly who’s been slow to come around this year. Next on her agenda is the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on August 17.

Distaffers were featured in the 1 1/8 miles Grade 3 Shuvee Handicap, where there was a lot of interest in Zenyatta’s little half-sister Eblouissante who was making her stakes debut. Unfortunately, all did not go as planned, as the Bernardini filly was unruly in the gate, tossing jockey Rosie Napravnik before the start and then never a factor once the race began, finishing dead-last. After taking the early lead, Sea Island gave way to Authenticity and Flashy American in the stretch, ending up third. For Authenticity, it was her third win of the year, following up her victory over On Fire Baby in the Grade 2 La Troienne and her narrow defeat to Tiz Miz Sue in the Grade 1 Odgen Phipps Handicap. Last year at this time, Flashy American was a maiden $25,000 claimer at Saratoga—how far this one-time $5,000 Keeneland purchase has come in just 12 months! Scratched from the Delaware Handicap where she would have faced Royal Delta to instead run in the Shuvee, Authenticity will likely face the two-time Eclipse winner in the Personal Ensign.

There were also some interesting races at Woodbine this weekend. In the 1 1/16 miles Grade 3 Ontario Matron Stakes, lightly-raced 5-year-old mare Sisterly Love easily defeated six other contenders over the Polytrack course, while on turf, nearly 11-1 longshot So Long George popped a huge upset in the 1 1/8 miles Grade 3 Nijinsky Stakes. Midweek, the 6 1/2 furlongs Grade 3 Bold Venture Stakes was captured for the second consecutive year by beloved 6-year-old veteran Essence Hit Man.
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Last Week’s Races

2013 James Marvin Stakes Replay
Sage Valley kicks off the Saratoga’s graded stakes action.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2013 Schuylerville Stakes Replay
Bahnah and Brazen Persuation notch the first dead heat of the meet!

Video courtesy of NYRA

2013 Shuvee Handicap Replay
Authenticity makes it look easy.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2013 Coaching Club American Oaks Replay
Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar wins emphatically off the bench.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2013 Eddie Read Stakes Replay
Jeranimo gets back to his winning ways.

Video courtesy of Del Mar

2013 Delaware Handicap Replay
Royal Delta royally dominates the field.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Sanford Stakes Replay
Wired Byran wires the field.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2013 San Clemente Stakes Replay
Wishing Gate for the win.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

Download Brisnet.com Results Charts
2013 Arlington Oaks Chart
2013 Coaching Club American Oaks Chart
2013 Delaware Handicap Chart
2013 Eddie Read Stakes Chart
2013 James Marvin Stakes Chart
2013 San Clemente Handicap Chart
2013 Sanford Stakes Chart
2013 Schuylerville Stakes Chart
2013 Shuvee Handicap Chart

Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker

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