Week of May 6, 2013
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Orb’s satisfying victory in the Kentucky Derby topped off a terrific weekend of racing, justly raising hopes that the Triple Crown drought may finally end.

The rains that drenched Churchill on Saturday neither dampened racing fans’ spirits, nor impeded the best horses from providing top performances, beginning with the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. For much of the day, Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary enjoyed favoritism, but late money arrived on the Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Orb, who ultimately went to post as the 5-1 favorite. Considering how sloppy the track was, the early front-runners (newly-blinkered Palace Malice and Goldencents) set grueling fractions (22.57, 45.33, 1:09.80) before being overtaken by Normandy Invasion and Oxbow as the field rounded the final turn. That’s when Orb, who had picked his way through the field from as far back as 17th place, made the lead in the stretch, and easily won by 2 1/2 lengths. Another runner from far back in the field, 34-1 Golden Soul finished second, just a length ahead of 6-1 Revolutionary who also had been far back in the field early on. Normandy Invasion finished fourth, just a head back of Revolutionary, and a head in front of Mylute with Rosie Napravnik aboard. It was another 6 lengths back to sixth-place Oxbow with 50-year-old Gary Stevens enjoying his return to the Derby.

With Orb’s win, the much-respected Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey finally enjoys his first Kentucky Derby winner, and, fittingly, does so for long-time patrons Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable. Orb is also the first Derby winning-ride for jockey Joel Rosario who, after winning the Dubai World Cup on Animal Kingdom and decimating Randy Romero’s record of 32 victories during the Keeneland spring meet by winning 38 races, is at the top of his game. McGaughey has confirmed Orb will be entered in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, where he’ll face a few familiar faces and some newcomers. Of the Derby starters, only Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday, Mylute, Oxbow, and Will Take Charge appear headed for Baltimore; possible new challengers including the impressive Grade 3 Illinois Derby winner Departing, as well as Grade 3 Sunland Derby victor Govenor Charlie and Fear the Kitten, the colt who failed to draw into the Derby field from the also-eligible list.

Derby runner-up Golden Soul will pass on the Preakness and aim for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 8, as will Revolutionary and 11th place finisher Overanalyze. Ninth-place finisher Charming Kitten may appear next at Royal Ascot, in the Group 1 St. James Palace Stakes on June 18. According to trainer Chad Brown, Normandy Invasion’s primary summer goal is the Grade 1 Travers on August 24.

While the Kentucky Derby was foremost in most racing fans’ thoughts, it wasn’t the only race held at Churchill on Saturday. One race before the Derby, the wet turf conditions led Shug McGaughey to scratch popular Point of Entry from the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, thus postponing a much-anticipated match-up with 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan. Last year’s winner Silver Max went to the early lead, followed by Optimizer who made up ground quickly after getting off a step slow at the break. Wise Dan sat comfortably in third-place until rounding the final turn when he kicked away from them, winning by nearly 5 lengths and recording his sixth Grade 1 victory. The gutsy Optimizer finished second, nearly 2 lengths ahead of late-closing Middie who ran third, just one-half length in front of Silver Max. Unfortunately for race fans, we won’t see Wise Dan again until Saratoga according to his connections; it remains to be seen whether that means the 8-furlong Grade 2 Fourstardave (again) on August 10, or if they will consider the 12-furlong Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational on August 17.

Another Shug McGaughey trainee, 2-1 favorite Hungry Island was upset by the popular Ken & Sarah Ramsey filly Stephanie’s Kitten in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf runner-up Marketing Mix was a pre-race scratch due to the soft turf conditions, thus clearing the way for last year’s Distaff Turf Mile winner to take on the favorite’s role. Both of the top two finishers came from far back, with Stephanie’s Kitten just a neck ahead of Hungry Island at the line. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to second-choice Daisy Devine in third.

In the day’s other turf race, in-form post-time favorite Icon Ike failed to handle the softening ground in the Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint, finishing seventh. At 11-1, Berlino Di Tiger shocked by winning in front-running fashion over 9-year-old veteran Chamberlain Bridge, by a nose. Looking at his past performances, maybe it shouldn’t have been such as surprise, as Berlino Di Tiger—a Grade 1 turf sprint winner in Brazil before coming to the U.S. this year—had displayed a clear aptitude for wet turf. The other two early speed horses, Southern Dude and Regally Ready, finished third and fourth, respectively.

The two dirt sprints on the Derby undercard also occurred over sloppy tracks. In the Humana Distaff, veteran jockey Edgar Prado guided the Street Sense filly Aubby K to her first Grade 1 victory—in a downpour reminiscent of her sire’s Derby victory. Beginning the year with a clear win in the Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream, Aubby K now looks to be one of the top sprinting fillies in the country. Not surprisingly given the muddy conditions, the Speightstown mare Burban ran a nice race to gain the runner-up position, while Holiday Soiree made up for her disappointing (and distant) second-place finish in the Sugar Maple Stakes at Charles Town to get up for third, just a neck behind Burban. In the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes, Maggi Moss’s former claimer Delaunay won his sixth consecutive sprint race (his first graded stakes) by defeating (among others) last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Trinniberg. After an unsuccessful jaunt to Dubai for the Group 1 Golden Shaheen, it probably wasn’t such a good idea to start Trinniberg here; the 4-year-old son of Teuflesberg ended up contesting the early pace, but tiring in the final furlong, finishing seventh in the 9-horse field. Delaunay who had been battling Trinniberg early on, continued to run on, apparently thriving on the sloppy going. It was 4 lengths back to the runner-up Pass the Dice, and another 3 1/2 lengths to third-place finisher Laurie’s Rocket.

The weather in Louisville was much better on Friday, with no rain and a fast track. The graded stakes action began with the Grade 2 La Troienne Stakes, with last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can going off the odds-on favorite. Unfortunately, she was bothered at the start by On Fire Baby who broke inward and threw her a little off her game. It was not enough to warrant an inquiry, however, and the winner turned out to be 5-1 shot Authenticity, a lightly-raced 6-year-old mare trained by Todd Pletcher who ran a big second in her first stakes attempt last-out in the 9-furlong Grade 3 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream. She battled On Fire Baby for the entire race, just putting her head in front at the wire. It was nearly 5 lengths back to Believe You Can in third.

In the 7-furlong Grade 3 Eight Belles Stakes, Grade 1 Spinaway winner So Many Ways benefited from a trainer-and-jockey change and came on late to snatch a half-length victory from the likewise late-closing Fusaichiswonderful, a filly undefeated racing in Puerto Rico last year and an impressive winner over So Many Ways in a minor stakes race at Gulfstream in March. Another late closer, 36-1 longshot Irish Lute, got up for third, a half length in front of the post-time favorite Calistoga.

The Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes turned out to be the most eventful race of the day, as post-time favorite Cyber Secret was disqualified from second-place for interference—and placed eighth in the 9-horse field. Unaffected by Cyber Secret’s shenanigans, Take Charge Indy challenged Right to Vote for the early lead, eventually taking over midway through the final turn and never looking back to win by 6 lengths. It was his first victory since last year’s Grade 1 Florida Derby, and a well-deserved one as well since, after his Kentucky Derby flop (due to injury), he had bravely raced against older horses last year including a narrow second-place finish against Shackleford over this track in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap. The disqualification of Cyber Secret moved Hymn Book into second and Bourbon Courage into third. On a track that was not particularly fast on Friday, Take Charge Indy’s final time (1:41.41) was just a tick off the track record (1:41.04) set by Successful Dan in last year’s Alysheba. His trainer Pat Byrne has indicated that the June 15 Grade 1 Stephen Foster may be next in the cards for Take Charge Indy.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Noble Tune justified his favoritism in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes, coming from just off-the-lead to win by nearly 2 lengths. Late-closing Admiral Kitten placed second, just a half length in front of another late-closer, War Dancer.

The feature event was the 139th running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, a race which featured one of the most accomplished and talented fields in recent memory. With four entrants in the 10-horse field, trainer Todd Pletcher had the odds in his favor, particular with the likes of Dreaming of Julia and Unlimited Budget running for him. However, post-time favorite Dreaming of Julia apparently lost any chance of winning when bumped by Rose to Gold coming out of the gate. As expected, it was Bob Baffert’s sole entry Midnight Lucky who went to the early lead, followed by Beholder and the two set a brisk pace. As they rounded the final turn, Midnight Lucky began to fade, and Beholder briefly took the lead before the unheralded 38-1 longshot Princess of Sylmar came roaring up to snatch the victory, winning by a half length. Beholder held on to second, finishing 2 lengths in front of Unlimited Budget who survived a photo finish for third against her late-closing stablemate Dreaming of Julia. For winning jockey Mike Smith, it was his first Oaks victory. The Pennsylvania-bred Princess of Sylmar had won two Aqueduct stakes earlier in the year and gamely battled Close Hatches before capitulating and finishing second in the Grade 2 Gazelle last-out, but even her trainer Todd Pletcher appeared shocked by her Oaks win. No plans have been made for her next start, or for most of the rest of the field.

While all eyes were focused on Kentucky, there were three others graded stakes this weekend, including two turf stakes at Belmont. New York-bred Lubash won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy for trainer Christophe Clement in near track record time, while another New York-bred, Hessonite captured her first graded stakes victory in the Grade 3 Beaugay. At Hollywood, the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap was taken out by Liaison who, one year ago, finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

Unfortunately, amidst all the joy this weekend we sadly lost two tremendous racehorses on Derby Day. Grade 2 Davona Dale winner Live Lively was euthanized at Belmont after severely fracturing her left foreleg during a workout in preparation for the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan. We also lost 2011 Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro to colic. All too often, it seems, when the racing gods giveth, they also taketh away.

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

Last Week’s Races

2013 Kentucky Derby Replay
Orb captures the Derby, and many hearts.

Video courtesy of official Kentucky Derby YouTube channel

2013 Kentucky Oaks Replay
Princess of Sylmar reminds everyone that she belongs by catching champ Beholder in deep stretch.

Video courtesy of official Kentucky Derby YouTube channel

2013 American Turf Stakes Replay
Noble Tune hugs the rail for the win.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Alysheba Stakes Replay
Take Charge Indy takes charge and pulls away.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 La Troienne Stakes Replay
Authenticity out duels a game On Fire Baby.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Eight Belles Stakes Replay
So Many Ways comes wide for an emphatic win.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Twin Spires Turf Sprint Replay
Berlino Di Tiger takes them all the way.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Humana Distaff Replay
Aubby K reigns supreme.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Replay
Stephanie’s Kitten fires off the bench.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Churchill Downs Stakes Replay
Delauney transfers his form to the big stage.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Replay
Wise Dan continues to dominate.

Video courtesy of Partymanners

2013 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap Replay
Liaison makes it two in row this year.

Video courtesy of Hollywood Park

2013 Beaugay Stakes Replay
Local favorite Hessonite scores a graded win.

Video courtesy of NYRA

2013 Fort Marcy Stakes Replay
Lubash scores.

Video courtesy of NYRA

Download Brisnet.com Results Charts
2013 Alysheba Stakes Chart
2013 American Turf Stakes Chart
2013 Beaugay Stakes Chart
2013 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes Chart
2013 Churchill Downs Stakes Chart
2013 Eight Belles Stakes Chart
2013 Fort Marcy Stakes Chart
2013 Humana Distaff Stakes Chart
2013 Kentucky Derby Chart
2013 Kentucky Oaks Chart
2013 La Troienne Stakes Chart
2013 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap Chart
2013 Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes Chart
2013 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes Chart

Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker

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