Week of September 19, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
It was a weekend of exciting finishes and first Grade 1 wins as turf racing took center stage across divisions.
Winter Memories victory in the Grade 1 Garden City almost has to be seen to be believed. After two losses where traffic trouble played a major part, it looked as though she sealed her fate for a third loss as late as half way through the stretch. After being stuck behind a wall of horses new jockey Javier Castellano finally got her clear around the final furlong, and without even being asked she turned into a “gray blur in the stretch” according to Belmont Park announcer Tom Durkin, getting the final quarter in a shocking 10:68 seconds. As a testament to the quality of the field, all other starters recorded their final fraction in less than 12 seconds, meaning the entire field was flying late. Winter Memories scored her first Grade 1 win in her first attempt. English shipper Theyskens’ Theory, the second place finisher, will be staying in the U.S. and might get a rematch with Winter Memories in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland on October 15.
At Woodbine it was local Northern Passion who rallied from last to first in the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes. She earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with the win but no word on her next move. Trainer Todd Pletcher took the Grade 3 Summer Stakes for the second year in a row with heavily favored Finale, who had to battle Excaper for the win. Also no word on Finale’s next move on the road the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Turallure, son of Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando, got his first Grade 1 win in Sunday’s featured Woodbine Mile. But he wasn’t alone, it was also the first Grade 1 for his sire and his owner/breeder and only the second for his trainer Charles Lopresti. Heavily favored Courageous Cat looked like he might emerge victorious but Turallure came with a big run on the outside. His next stop will be the Breeders’ Cup Mile where he’s likely to meet Courageous Cat again and three time race winner Goldikova.
English shipper Wigmore Hall also got his first Grade 1 in the Northern Dancer at Woodbine. Last out he got stuck in a bit of traffic in the Arlington Million (replay) and only managed fourth but this time took the rail route and got the best of Al Khali and Simmard. Never Retreat joined the millionaire’s club when she won the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes. The 6-year-old mare has only been out of the money twice in her nine starts this year, including two other starts at Woodbine where she won and came in second. No word on what’s next for anyone out of the Northern Dancer or Canadian Stakes.
Also this week a horse named Rapid Redux made it 17 in a row at Charles Town on Friday night. He’s two away from tying the thoroughbred record held by Zenyatta and Pepper’s Pride of 19. Undefeated Australian super-mare Black Caviar took the top honors down under winning the Australian Horse of the Year title. Learn more about this superstar at Raceday 360!
Next weekend 3-year-old colts get another chance to prep for the Breeders’ Cup in an age restricted race in the Pennsylvania Derby. We’ll bring you a Ten Things on the race later in the week. We also already have a Ten Things for the Kent Stakes, a race for 3-year-olds on the turf at Delaware Park. Next weekend is also the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions at Turfway Park. Turfway Park has an all-weather surface so be sure to check out our post on All-Weather Sires, so you can see who might have an edge that’s not readily apparent!
We rolled out a new feature last week called Trip Notes aimed at keeping you up to date throughout the week. In addition to bringing you updates similar to the Weekly Roundup, we’ll also highlight handicapping, wagering and history items that we think you might like.
Keep with all the racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!