Week of June 4, 2012
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

The Dubai bounce theory suffered a serious blow last week in the form of Game on Dude while potential Belmont contenders prepared for their upcoming date with destiny.

Game on Dude was the story of the weekend, making his first start since running 12th in the Dubai World Cup. Not only did he win the Grade 2 Californian Stakes (chart), he won it impressively under a handride, overcoming a common angle many players refer to as the Dubai bounce (which assumes horses coming back from the grueling trip to Dubai will need a race or two to get back to form). Even trainer Bob Baffert didn’t expect him to perform that well! The Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 7 is his next target.

2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner St. Nicholas Abbey also delivered a blow to the concept of the Dubai bounce when he finished second at Curragh last month after finishing second in Dubai, although his Curragh defeat seems to have been considered a shock. He returned to winning form last weekend with an impressive win in the Coronation Cup at Epsom for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a race he also won last year. His next stop might be the Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot. The father/son team of trainer Aidan and jockey Joseph O’Brien also won the Epsom Derby with Camelot, giving the elder O’Brien his fourth win in the classic race.

C C’s Pal got the best of Nicole H in the Grade 2 Vagrancy (chart) at Belmont Park on Saturday after running second in the My Juliet Stakes at Parx the week before. The victress, who brought her 2012 record to 2-2-1 in five starts, will get a freshening according to trainer Rick Dutrow. At Churchill Downs Bizzy Caroline ran down a game Heavenly Landing in the Grade 3 Mint Julep Handicap (chart), a race that trainer Ken McPeek and jockey Manny Cruz won last year with My Baby Baby, the win also marked McPeek’s 300th win at Churchill Downs.

On Sunday it looked like Liaison might find his way back to the winner’s circle in the Affirmed Handicap (chart) at Hollywood Park, but it was Nonios who rode the rail for the win. You may remember that Nonios was scratched at the gate in the Derby Trial when the farrier could not reshoe him. No word on what’s next for Nonios or Liaison.

Fan favorite Rapid Redux, who holds the modern North American record for consecutive Thoroughbred victories at 22, settled into his new home at Old Friends last week. Old Friends is open to the public daily and offers guided tours for those interesting in visiting with Rapid Redux or any of the Old Friends.

Many of the 2012 Belmont Stakes contenders put in workouts over the weekend. NYRA provided the following times for those who worked at Belmont Park on Sunday, we’ve also linked each of the names to a video of the work on YouTube:

Atigun – 2F in 24.30, official work of four furlongs breezing in 48.55, gallop out five furlongs in 1:01.63

Dullahan – Two furlongs in 22.20, official work of four furlongs breezing in 45.97, gallop out five furlongs in 58.91 (editor’s note: yowza!)

Paynter – Two furlongs in 24.66, four furlongs in 49.22, official work of seven furlongs breezing in 1:25.00

Street Life – Two furlongs in 25.01, official work of five furlongs breezing in 1:01.15, gallop out six furlongs in 1:13.55

Unstoppable U – Two furlongs in 25.91, official work of five furlongs breezing in 1:02.05, gallop out six furlongs in 1:14.55

I’ll Have Another also galloped on Sunday, as he’s been doing since arriving at Belmont Park. Two other contenders worked at their respective home bases: Union Rags worked at Fair Hill while Ravelo’s Boy worked at Calder.

Check out our Keep up with the 2012 Belmont Stakes post for a list of ways to stay current with Belmont Stakes news this week! And remember, the Belmont Stakes isn’t the only thing going on this month, check out Month Ahead for June 2012 and make sure you calendar is clear all the great racing taking place this month!

Keep up with all the commentary on the Belmont Stakes, the Triple Crown and I’ll Have Another at Raceday 360 Wire. And be sure to check out the probable starters for the 2012 Belmont Stakes at Horse Racing Nation.

Last Week’s Races

2012 Vagrancy Handicap Replay
C.C’s Pal fights back and denies favored Nicole H.

2012 Californian Replay
Game on Dude kicks off his 5-year-old campaign with a bang

2012 Nassau Stakes Replay
Marketing Mix overcomes the traffic mix

2012 Winning Colors Stakes Replay
Island Bound is winner’s circle bound

2012 Aristides Stakes Replay
Rothko runs away with it.

2012 Mint Julep Handicap Replay
Bizzy Caroline got busy and ran down Heavenly Landing

2012 Affirmed Handicap Replay
Nonios rides the rail to his first graded win.

2012 Woodbine Oaks Replay
Irish Mission, mission completed!

2012 Diamond Jubilee Coronation Cup Replay
St. Nicholas Abbey runs away with it.

Upcoming Graded Stakes Races

Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker

See you at the track!

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