This weekend’s Horse Racing Race of the Week should really be “races” of the week as Belmont Park in New York will be hosting Super Saturday, which is also known as Breeders Cup Preview Day. Trainer Bill Mott is loaded for this weekend’s action as he will be sending out grade I winners Royal Delta (2012 Beldame), Ron the Greek and Flat Out (2012 Jockey Club Gold Cup), and To Honor and Serve (2012 Kelso Handicap)
Mott feels Flat Out is rounding back into his form from last year and is expecting a big performance in the Gold Cup.
“He’s doing very well,” Mott said. “I’m happy with his works, and it seems like he feels good and is ready to run. I gave him a fair amount of time to get over the Whitney. He’s run well over this track (two-for-two), and that has to be a bonus.”
The Jockey Club Gold Cup will be the feature race at Belmont on Saturday afternoon but the rest of the card also deserves serious attention.
The stakes races begin with race five, the grade 1 Beldame Stakes. The one and one eighth miles event for fillies and mares will see It’s Tricky clash with champion Royal Delta for a $400,000 purse.
On paper, it looks as though Royal Delta will sit right off the early pace which figures to be set by either Cash for Clunkers or It’s Tricky if not both.
“It looks like there’ll be an honest pace,” Mott said. “I don’t think there’s a problem if there’s an honest pace.”
However Mott did add that Royal Delta “was compromised” by a muddy track in last year’s Beldame. This doesn’t bode well for her again this year as the forecast for Friday and Saturday in New York calls for an inch of rain.
The next race is the Kelso Stakes at a flat mile. The grade: 2, $400,000 race will feature 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford vs. the speedy Tapizar vs. recent semi-upset Woodward Stakes winner (and the gorgeous) To Honor and Serve. The Kelso might just be the most competitive race on the card.
Next up on the card (race 7) is the seven furlong Vosburgh. The race looks wide open but I do like the come backing Sean Avery, even though Justin Phillip was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite.
Race 8 is the grade: 1 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes. The race will be run at one and one quarter miles on the inner turf course. Leading female turf runner Zagora will be taking on European invaders I’m a Dreamer, Nahrain, and Dream Peace.
The four aforementioned fillies have won or placed in nine grade or group I stakes in the U.S., Canada, France, and Ireland.
Race 9 on the Super Saturday should be quite a horse race as well. It’s the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Invitational at 1 ½ miles on the turf for three year olds and up colt and geldings.
The race figures to be the ultimate game in “cat and mouse” as one of the premier grass horses in the country Point of Entry, who likes to come from behind, will square off against the speedy Little Mike, winner of the recent 2012 Arlington Million.
After the Joe Hirsch comes the Jockey Club Gold Cup….but I’m not done yet.
Santa Anita Park is having a Super Saturday of their own as they will re-open their doors with 5 big grade:1 ’s on the Saturday card.
Race 6 at the “Great Race Place” is the $250,000 Chandielier Stakes, (formerly the Oak Leaf Stakes) where west coast two year old filly division leader Executiveprivilege puts her unbeaten (4 for 4) record on the line against 10 others.
I’m not sure how much that last race took out of her (she won the Del-Mar Debutante by a nose after a long, hard stretch battle), but if she bounces out of the race ok and can handle the stretch out in distance (this is her first try in anything other than a sprint race) she should be very tough to beat.
Two races later is the grade:1 Zenyatta Stakes for fillies and mares. A field of nine will go a mile and one sixteenth for a purse $250,000. You have to like the streaking Include Me Out in this race. This four year old filly by Include is four for five this year (no pun intended) including two grade one wins. She also shows nine first or second place finishes in 11 career starts.
Still two races after the Zenyatta Stakes is the $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes. The grade: 1, mile and an eighth event will feature 2012 Horse of the Year candidate Game On Dude
Game on Dude, who could easily go off as the favorite in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, gets a rider change (from Chantal Sutherland to Rafael Bejarano) and will break from the rail.
Belmont Park – September 29, 2012
Race 10 – 5:46 PM
Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (Grade I)
For Three Year Olds and Upward.
One And One Quarter Miles
Analysis: (By Post Position order with selections below)
PP#1- Ron The Greek- this stretch runner has definitely improved since being handed over to trainer Bill Mott in July of 2011. In fact, in his eight starts under Mott’s care he’s never been worse than second (8-4-4-0).
In his last race (the Whitney Handicap August 4) he closed like the proverbial freight train to be second to the #5 horse (FortLarned) in this race. But please note he was forced to go a seven wide on the turn for home and still only lost by a little more than a length.
Also note he’s never been off the board in four wet track starts, so the threat of (heavy) rain and an off-track should not bother him at all.
No doubt he’s one of the top older males in the country this year and if he gets a fast pace and a good trip, he should be right there at the end…..if you’re an exotics player, this horse is “must use”.
PP#2- Stay Thirsty– this $500,000 Fasig Tipton yearling by the gorgeous Bernardini has disappointed in his last two starts as he was beaten handily in both. (Both fifth place finishes)
I’m obviously turned off by those last two starts but I’m especially turned off by the fact that in the Suburban Handicap on July 7 (two races back) jockey J.J. Castellano had to go to the whip at the three-eighths pole….the three eighths pole, readers, is far too early for a jockey to be going to his whip.
Looking back into his past performances even further shows this horse hasn’t won since winning the prestigious Travers Stakes in August of 2011.
The fact that he hasn’t won in over a year and he is 0 for 5 over the Belmont surface further fuels me to throw him out.
PP#3- Ruler On Ice– is another who hasn’t won in a while (15 months?). Yes, he won the Belmont Stakes over a sloppy track (which we will probably have a sloppy track again this Saturday) and yes he scored a triple digit speed figure in the process but the truth is….aside from a solid third at 17-1 in the Breeders Cup Classic last year, he hasn’t done all that much as all since the Belmont Stakes win.
This Roman Ruler gelding is an easy throw out for me being he was absolutely walloped by $75,000 optional claimers two starts back and could only manage a second place finish vs. $40,000 optional claimers in his last…off those last two races, how is he supposed to win a prestigious grade: 1 race?
PP#4- `Hymn Book– this now six year old gelding is as honest as the day is long in the sense that he never runs a bad race. Going back to August of last year he hasn’t never lost by more that 3 ¾’s lengths in last seven races….now that’s consistent.
I believe he is just a notch below the elite older horses in the country this year but I have to tell you, that :46.4 half mile work last week combined with the fact that he is four for five in his career over wet surfaces are both very scary bits of information…..longshot possibility?
PP#5- Fort Larned– has absolutely grabbed my attention in the older male division this year as he won the June 30 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows “unchallenged” then came to New York and won the August 4 Whitney Handicap “under a hand ride late”.
He’s versatile as he can win from on or off the pace, has scored three 108 and one 110 speed figures in four of his last five starts and (once again with rain in the forecast) he’s won his only start over a off track by almost seven lengths.
Lots to like here…
PP#6- Atigun– nice looking thoroughbred…. the 1 ¼ miles won’t be an issue and comes off (by speed figures, he ran a 98) his best race to date.
The problem is 98 will not win this race…he looks in over his head to me…pass
PP#7- Fast Falcon– came from out of nowhere (at 32.50-1 odds) to almost win the Travers Stakes in his last start and shows two other good late running performances vs. stakes caliber horses as well.
It’s just that 1 for 7 lifetime record and the fact he threw in clunker of a race in his only off track start are two major things that I just can’t seem to get past.
PP#8- San Pablo is a winner of seven of 12 in his career while finishing on the board in 11 of those 12 races.
He also shows four triple digit speed figures with two of them coming back to back in his last two races. (He won the Philip Iselin, a grade :3 race at Monmouth in his last)
Those 12-1 morning line odds look pretty enticing too. I going to pass on him but if he runs big on Saturday afternoon, I won’t be surprised.
PP#9- Flat Out– coincidently won this race last year and it was over a sloppy track too….can history repeat itself for this guy this year?…maybe…as you can see in my introduction, trainer Bill Mott is pretty confident he’ll run well.
I mean, that was a big speed figure he ran while finishing third in the aforementioned Whitney Stakes in his last so maybe Mott is right, maybe he is rounding back into form.
The now six year old by Flatter maybe worth taking a small flyer on come Saturday afternoon.
PP#10- Game Ball– who?…what’s this horse doing in here? He’s only faced grade one competition twice in his career and lost the two by a combined 27 3/4’s lengths.
Ok, let’s see if I can find something positive here….well, I do like his owner/trainer, I also like his late running style, he is 10 for 23 in his career and he is 2 for 2 over wet tracks….But all in all he’s 50-1 morning line and deservedly so.
1) Fort Larned
2) Ron The Greek
3) Flat Out
4) San Pablo
Record: 16-48= 33%
Little Bets N’ Pieces:
**** 1983 Preakness winner Deputed Testamony died last week (Sept. 18) at an eye popping 32 years of age, he was the oldest living classic winner inNorth America.
Deputed Testamony, who was bred and raced by William Boniface and his son, J. William Boniface in the name of Bonita Farm, skipped the Kentucky Derby and won the Preakness by almost three lengths over Derby runner-up Desert Wine, with that years Derby winner Sunny’s Halo, finishing sixth as the 11-10 favorite. .
Affectionately called DT around the farm, Deputed Testamony retired to stud in 1984 after being syndicated for $5 million and initially stood for $25,000 live foal.
Deputed Testamony sired 21 stakes winners in 20 crops including graded winners Under Oath, Testafly and Gold Fleece. His daughters have produced grade I winnersBellamy Road and Whitmore’sConn.
**** Grade: 1 winner Boys At Tosconova has been retired from racing, according to owner Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable.
The good looking son of Officer won his racing debut by 12 lengths before winning the 2010 Hopeful impressively atSaratoga.
But in his final start of the 2010 season, he finished second by 4 1/4 lengths to that years eventual champion juvenile male Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
“Boys At Tosconova is a smart horse, but I just don’t think he wants to do it anymore,” said Siegel of the colt’s attitude toward racing. “Physically he’s fine. When he didn’t want to train few months ago, we sent him to Dr. Larry Bramlage who thought it was a foot issue and that got fixed”.
“Then when he was going back toNew York, he got colic, so we fixed that and we got the all-clear to start back. (Trainer) Rick (Dutrow) said he’d been training, but he wasn’t as lively as he can normally be. He called me and said, ‘I want to stop; he doesn’t want to do it anymore.'”
**** 2012 Haskell Invitational winner Paynter has beaten laminitis and will be able to race again if he beats colitis, his owner (Ahmed Zayat) said last week.
Paynter, who had been hospitalized at Upstate Equine Medical Center in Schuylerville, N.Y.since the week of August 26 while battling colitis, and then being diagnosed with laminitis in three feet a week later.
“Dr. Brian Fraley (flew) in from Kentucky to visit him and wow, yes, he has beaten laminitis, and yes, he can race again,” Ahmed Zayat said via Twitter.
Zayat also said the casts that had been applied to support the colt’s limbs were removed last Friday, and that he was showing even growth in the hoof walls of all four feet.
“Radiographs taken barefoot showed significant sole growth,” Zayat tweeted. “The hoof-lamellar zone has returned to a normal thickness, indicating a decrease in swelling within the hoof. Soft-ride boots with EVA foam pads were placed on the front feet and EVA foam pads were placed on the hind feet. He is sound at the walk.”
Dr. Laura Javsicas, Paynter’s vet, and Dr. Fraley are optimistic the feet will not be performance-limiting.
Paynter continues to battle colitis, however, and continues to spike fevers well above normal.
“Now that our warrior has beaten this sick disease of laminitis, if he can only beat his colitis and get his GI tract back to normal,” Zayat tweeted. “Healing will take some time but we are heading in the right direction. His fever is normal today. He is bright, happy and comfortable. I am on cloud nine; I will take it day by day.”
**** The speedy The Factor, a multiple grade I-winning sprinter, has also been retired and will enter stud at Lane’s End Farm near Versailles, Ky., for the 2013 breeding season. He will stand for a fee of $15,000.
The Factor won six of 13 starts, with five of those wins coming in graded stakes.
“The Factor showed brilliant speed and exceptional scope and quality in his three seasons on the racetrack and Lane’s End is very pleased to stand this stunning horse whose pedigree will be of great interest to breeders,” said owner Will Farish.
In his second start at 2, The Factor broke his maiden while set the six-furlong track mark of 1:06.4 at Santa Anita Park.
**** 2012 Holy Bull Stakes winner Algorithms has returned from injury and is galloping daily atBelmontPark for trainer Todd Pletcher
“He’s at Belmont (since September 11) galloping and should probably have his first breeze this weekend,” majority owner Jack Wolf said last week.
“The honest answer as to whether we make a race this year or not is, it depends on how the horse comes back. The way he looks and the way he’s acting now, depending on how the breezes go, I don’t see any reason why something this year couldn’t be planned. But my exact words to Todd this morning were, ‘I’ve been harping on getting a race in this horse this year, but at the end of the day, you progress as you see fit.'”
“Todd did make the comment, especially with horses of this quality, it doesn’t take them that long to get up to (working) five-eighths and ready for a race as long as everything is physically OK,” Wolf said. “Right now we’re all systems go; he looks fantastic and is moving well on the track.”
Wolf also added that “all is well” with impressive Hopeful winner Shanghai Bobby, who turned in his first work since the Hopeful when he went four furlongs in :49.2 breezing atBelmontthis past Monday.
“Shanghai Bobby and Algorithms both got the green light” Wolf added.
****Trainer Sir Henry Cecil is expected to bring the undefeated champion and Horse of the World from where I sit, Frankel out for a gallop (workout) at Newmarket Racecourse before the start of the first race this Saturday (Sept. 29).
Franekl will be joined in the work by Bullet Train and Midsummer Sun as part Frankel’s preparation for the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes on Oct. 20 atAscot.
“I am keen for the experience to feel like a race for Frankel so will saddle at the course before the three horses take a couple of turns in the main parade ring,” said Cecil. “The gallop will be over a mile and one furlong and the intention is for Frankel to go to the winner’s enclosure afterwards.”
“We are thrilled that Frankel will be with us at the start of one of our best day’s racing of the year. And what’s great from our perspective is that we are forecast a dry and sunny day for it,” said Amy Starkey,Newmarket’s managing director. “Saturday represents a brilliant opportunity for people in the East region—and beyond—the chance to come and get close to the greatest racehorse in the world.
“Horses like Frankel don’t come along very often, so from my own perspective, I want to see as much of him as I possibly can—and the team at Newmarket Racecourses all feel similarly excited about the prospect.”