Week of July 30, 2012
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Like mother, like daughter — on Saturday, Winter Memories replicated the feat of her dam Memories of Silver in winning the Grade 1 Diana (chart) at Saratoga. Tapitsfly, who beat her last out in the 1-mile Grade 1 Just a Game, took the early lead, but faded in the stretch to finish fourth behind French Group 2 winner Dream Peace and defending Diana victress Zagora. For the Jimmy Toner-trained daughter of El Prado the September 29 Grade 1 Flower Bowl Handicap is next, followed by the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in November.

Also at Saratoga on Saturday, Godolphin’s Alpha relished the sloppy going, jumping out to the early lead and never looking back in winning the Grade 2 Jim Dandy (chart) by two lengths over Grade 3 Matt Winn victor Neck ‘n Neck, a Flower Alley colt who appears to be a late bloomer. Liaison finished third, ahead of Teeth of the Dog. It will be hard to judge Alpha‘s performance given the race’s pedestrian fractions and final time, but, exactly like his Jim Dandy-winning sire Bernardini, his next race will be the Grade 1 Travers.

Also aiming for the Travers is Bob Baffert-trainee Paynter who lived up to his regal breeding in capturing the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational (chart) in convincing fashion. Out of a full sister to champion Tiznow, Paynter was caught late by Union Rags in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, but there was no one catching the son of Jim Dandy winner Awesome Again this day, as he gave Baffert his sixth Haskell victory. Grade 2 Swaps runner-up Nonios finished a distant second while Stealcase, who finished just a neck behind Paynter in the Grade 3 Derby Trial, was significantly further back this time in third after trailing much of the race. Grade 1 Wood Memorial winner Gemologist was in contention early, but faded badly to finish last, just back of Grade 1 Blue Grass winner Dullahan who also ran a disappointing race.

In addition to Paynter, the Belmont’s form line was flattered by the victory of Street Life (Street Sense) over Five Sixteen in Friday’s ungraded Curlin Stakes (chart) at Saratoga. His connections have indicated that Street Life will also attempt to replicate his sire’s Travers success.

Last year’s Grade 1 Hopeful winner Currency Swap remains undefeated at Saratoga, capturing Sunday’s Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes (chart) for trainer Terri Pompey. He’s likely headed for the Grade 1 King’s Bishop next. Doctor Chit (War Front) set fast early fractions and gamely hung on for second, while Unbridled’s Note closed nicely to finish third ahead of Laurie’s Rocket. Poor Gun Boat literally fell on his face coming out of the gate, spotting the field a huge lead, but still ran gamely in defeat. Watch for him next out.

Friday at Del Mar, 7-year-old Richard’s Kid captured the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap (chart), his third strong effort since his unfortunate two-year foray of Dubai. The following day, another 7-year-old veteran Rail Trip earned his way into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, winning the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap (chart), his first win in over two years. On Sunday, it was 6-year-old Amazombie‘s turn to shine, as the defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champ won the Grade 1 Bing Crosby (chart). Last-out Grade 1 Triple Bend runner-up The Factor dueled Comma To The Top early before both were passed by the winner; The Factor‘s stablemate Capital Account actually got up for third.

Turf, not dirt, was the preferred surface for three-year-old fillies this week, first at Saratoga last Wednesday when Centre Court (Smart Strike) did something her Grade 1-placed dam Let couldn’t do — win at Saratoga. She defeated another well-bred filly, Better Lucky, in the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes (chart); Group 1 Irish 1,000 Guineas victress Samitar finished a narrow third in her American debut, a head in front of fourth-place finisher Stephanie’s Kitten. At Woodbine on Sunday, the third jewel of the Canadian Triple Tiara went to Awesome Fire, ridden by Chantal Sutherland for her brother Hugh Sutherland whose Urban Fire Corporation owns the Strong Contender filly. Blogger Keith McCalmont wrote an insightful piece about Awesome Fire and her sibling connections before her third-place finish in the Woodbine Oaks, and it’s worth a gander.

Finally, we also learned this week the name selected for the royally-bred colt previously only known by his paddock name Taco, by Curlin out of Rachel Alexandra — both Eclipse-winning Horses of the Year. From more than 6,500 entries, the late Jess Jackson’s widow Barbara Banke announced at Saratoga on Friday the apropos name, Jess’s Dream.

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

Last Week’s Races

2012 Lake George Stakes Replay
Centre Divider comes out on top.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Curlin Stakes Replay
Street Life puts it all together.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Cougar II Handicap Replay
Richard’s Kid still has it!

Video courtesy of Del Mar

2012 Diana Handicap Replay
Winter Memories makes it look easy.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Jim Dandy Stakes Replay
Alpha takes them all the way.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 San Diego Handicap Replay
Rail Trip is on his way to the Breeders’ Cup.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

2012 Haskell Invitational Replay
Paynter puts away the field.

2012 Amsterdam Stakes Replay
Currency Swap runs down Doctor Chit.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2012 Bing Crosby Stakes Replay
Amazombie runs them down.

2012 Royal North Stakes Replay
Roxy Gap holds off Atlantic Hurricane.

Video courtesy of Woodbine

Upcoming Graded Stakes Races

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