We will be looking at five more races in this week’s Horse Races of the Week, highlighted by the Grade: 1, 2015 Arlington Million at 10 furlongs on the turf at Arlington Park. The Million, which was the very first million dollar race in America with the inaugural running won by the great John Henry (1981) in what remains one of the greatest horse races I’ve ever seen, drew a field of 12.
In fact, this weekend theme is very “green” as all five races we will be breaking down will be run on the grass.
Those races include a spectacular under-card at Arlington in the Beverley D Stakes, a mile and three sixteenths race for three year old and up fillies and mares on the turf for a purse of $700,000 and the Secretariat Stakes, a race for three year olds on the turf going 10 furlongs for $450,000.
Over at Saratoga in New York, we will be looking at Fourstardave Handicap, a $500,000 contest for three year olds and up going a flat mile on the turf.
Last, but certainly not least, we will break down the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks at Del Mar in California. The Oaks carries a purse of $300,000 for three year fillies going a nine furlongs.
Saturday August 15, 2015
Race: 8 (4:17 PMEST Post)
One and One Quarter Miles
For Three Year Olds
Force the Pass– has never been worse than second in his six race career but it’s really his last two races where he caught my attention. In the May 30 Penn Mile, this son of Speightstown came from eighth position early on, surged to the lead in deep stretch and won by a head in a strong 1:34 flat. He was then basically ignored by the betting public in his next start (the 10 furlong Belmont Derby) when he was sent off at 10-1 but wound up taking over that race at the half mile pole and never looked back, winning by almost four conclusive lengths. “He does everything right,” trainer Alan Goldberg said. “Right now he’s doing the same as he’s always done. He’s a good work horse and excellent on the racetrack. I thought he was a little high-priced (odds in the Belmont Derby),” Goldberg added. “You’re always worried (whether they can get the distance), but he has a big, nice, long stride and has the mind for it.”……..Goldstream– is unbeaten and, by and large, untested thus far in his five race career in Italy. Distance will be no problem at all for him and although this good looking colt hasn’t race in three months, he still looms Force the Pass’s main rival as he seem to run well fresh………War Dispatch– is another out of the country (France) invader who sports an impressive record of 9-6-2-1. Gray colt by War Front handles any grass surface (soft or firm), any distance and has held his own vs. Group: 2 and 3 rivals overseas….figures bang up….. Honorable Mentions– Highland Reel is better than his 3 for 7 record would indicate as that last win in the Gordon Stakes (GB) was first rate….could better this rating.
Saturday August 15, 2015
Race: 9 (5:05 PMEST Post)
Beverly D Stakes
One and Three Sixteenths Miles
For Three Year Olds and Up Fillies and Mares
Euro Charline– won this race last year after kicking hard (and five wide) off the final turn and roaring down the stretch to get up by three quarters of a length. The 2104 Beverley D was her last race of the season and took seven months off before coming back in the Dubai World Turf race, where she finished a very respectable fourth and was beaten just 5 lengths for all the money. I thought it was a very good effort for a horse taking that amount of time off and globe trotting around the world as well. Good looking filly was then shipped to Newmarket (England) where she took the lead in mid stretch of the Falmouth (Group: 1) Stakes but was run down in deep stretch and had to settle for second. She handles being shipped around the planet fairly easily and, from her victory here last year, you know she can handle the surface and distance too. You are also getting the third start off a layoff angle as well…..edge in yet another tough and competitive horse race……… Wedding Vow– ran a huge second, beaten just 2 ½ lengths, in the prestigious Nassau Stakes in England in her last. Filly by Galileo, from the master Aiden O’Brien’s barn, is a contender in here based solely off that last race…and thank goodness for that because that 1 for 7 lifetime mark is a bit daunting………Stephanie’s Kitten– has been a top grass female for quite some time now as she always fires her best shot in deep stretch of her races. Take a good look at that last race (July 25 Diana at Saratoga), notice she was 17 lengths behind at the half mile pole but was beaten a total of just 2 ¾ lengths in the end. I’m not math major but she made up some 15 lengths in the last 5 furlongs of that race …that…..readers…..is some serious (late) running. Mare by Kitten’s Joy, from the Chad Brown barn, won a Breeders Cup race and finished second in another so you know the class is there…the question is, will the early pace be there? Because like always with her, she’ll be at the mercy of it. Honorable Mentions: Carla Bianca– had a solid 2014 (4 for 6) and, after taking 8 months off, has rounded back into form in textbook style…kudos to trainer Dermot Weld for bringing this filly into this race in (on paper) perfect form. Needless to say, I expect a good effort from her……..Watsdachances– those 10-1 morning line odds look very generous to me because it appears she is peaking out at the right time also. This bay mare came from behind to win her 2015 debut, but it was really her next (and last) race that made me sit up and take notice. Take a look at the (July 5) Dance Smartly at Woodbine. Notice how she trailed most of the way around before uncorking a titanic late run and only getting beat a head while running (about) nine furlongs in supersonic 1:45.2. You also get Chad Brown and the third start off a layoff angle with her….no surprise to me if she betters this rating.
Saturday August 15, 2015
Del Mar Racetrack
Race: 8 (5:40 PMEST Post)
Del Mar Oaks
One and One Eighth Miles
For Three Year Olds Fillies
Prize Exhibit– closed strongly to win her last two in California getting a mile both times in the same exact time. Filly by Showcasing going in career best form and has already beaten several of these in her last 2 races….logical choice…..Sunset Glow– is as consistent as the day is long as she’s never been off the board in now nine lifetime starts. Gray filly by Exchange Rate chased home the top pick last time but, in only losing by 1 ½ lengths, she certainly wasn’t embarrassed by her…..looks next best (again)…….Zipessa– is unbeaten in two career starts after overwhelming maidens on May 31 then coming back about six weeks later to easily defeat high priced optional claimers (on the grass) in her second start. You also get the “fresh face” angle with this daughter of City Zip and a big work (4F- :48 flat with the dogs up)…..Honorable Mentions: Sharla Rae– has lots of graded stake experience and hasn’t really been blown out in any of them. Also note this filly by Afleet Alex finished less than five lengths behind rising star (before developing laminitis) Lady Eli in her last at Belmont….to stay within five lengths of that filly is an accomplishment………Paulina’s Love– has hit the board in five of seven grass starts and finished right behind the top two picks in her last. Filly by Mizzen Mast had won two prior races to that and could be a menace in this spot.
Saturday August 15, 2015
Race: 10 (5:48 PMEST Post)
One and One Quarter Miles
For Three Year Olds and Up
|1||1||Up With the Birds||5/H||L||D Van Dyke||126||H G Motion||12/1|
|2||2||Slumber||7/H||L||I Ortiz, Jr.||126||C C Brown||7/2|
|3||3||Bookrunner||4/C||L1||G Mosse||126||M Delzangles||15/1|
|4||4||Big Blue Kitten||7/R||L||J Bravo||126||C C Brown||3/1|
|5||5||Wake Forest||5/H||L1||E Pedroza||126||A Wohler||12/1|
|6||6||Legendary||6/G||L||S Russel||126||N Saville||15/1|
|7||7||The Pizza Man||6/G||L||F Geroux||126||R A Brueggemann||10/1|
|8||8||Quiet Force||5/H||L||R Albarado||126||M J Maker||15/1|
|9||9||Shining Copper||5/G||L||C A Emigh||126||C C Brown||30/1|
|10||10||Triple Threat||5/H||L||J Lezcano||126||W I Mott||6/1|
|11||11||Maverick Wave||4/C||L1||W T Buick||126||J H Gosden||8/1|
|12||12||Elleval||5/G||L1||P J Smullen||126||D Marnane||30/1|
|13||13||Belgian Bill||7/H||L1||J P Spencer||126||G Baker||30/1|
1) Big Blue Kitten– is an astounding 25-12-6-4 in his career on the turf and owns a strong and consistent late kick as well.
This now seven year old ridgling has been right there at the end of his last five races in a row including winning the Fort Marcy (May 2) and the Grade: 1 United Nations (July 5) in his last.
Albeit, this race drew very difficult, I saw three things that make me give him the nod here.
First off, his (recent) speed figures are the highest of all the contenders or at least of those who have started in this country. Two, he clearly does his best running on a firm turf course and it looks as though mother nature will cooperate with him on that angle. Three, he will be aided by a rabbit (Shining Copper) to set up his late run in a very shrewd tactical move by owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. (Shining Copper was also used successfully to set up this horse in the United Nations.)…looks marginally best in a wide open renewal of the Million this year.
2) Maverick Wave– has won three of his last four overseas and will be adding Lasix for the first time.
Even though this Elusive Quality colt hasn’t run in three months, he is batting over .500 in his career and is one of several Euros in this race that pose a threat.
3) The Pizza Man– owns the Arlington Park turf course as he is an eye popping nine for 12 over it (with a second and a third).
Six year old gelding by English Channel has won the last five times he’s stepped foot on the grass surface here and he must be respected….it’s just the downward trend of his speed figures that’s making me hesitate.
Honorable Mentions: (and there are several due to the depth of this field)
Slumber– exchanged decisions with the top pick in his last two and also shows strong and upward trending speed figures in his last three races…could better this rating…… Wake Forest has won six of 10 in his career in Europe. If he can duplicate that May 10 race here, he should be among the vanguard at the end. Still another who gets Lasix for the first time and note his trainer wins at an astonishing 40% with his horses who are first time Lasix……. Quiet Force– has won three of his last four dating back to last year, but merits respect off that last win (July 11 Arlington Handicap) which is the traditional prep race for the Million……Bookrunner– has won three of six career starts in France and is another who will getting Lasix for the first time. A bit of a dark horse but not without a chance here…….Triple Threat– overcame a slow pace to win a grade: 2 at Monmouth in his US debut. Trained by one of the best in the business, this horse’s speed figure in that race was lacking. If he improves off that race (and he just might), he should run well.
Saturday August 15, 2015
Race: 10 (6:25 PMEST Post)
For Three Year Olds and Up
1) King Kreesa– is the (back) in form speed and should make every pole a winning one in this spot.This six year old gelding by King Cugat, himself a dominant turf runner years ago, wired fields in his last two races in winning the Grade: 3 Poker Handicap, getting a mile in 1:33.2 and coming back about a month later and winning the Forbidden Apple Stakes (also at a mile) in wickedly fast 1:32.1.His speed figures remain high and consistent, signaling to me he is holding form and battled the great Wise Dan step for step two years ago on this very turf course…..also, this is clearly his best distance as he has finished on the board in nine of 10 tries at one mile……..Ironicus– is a well-bred (Distorted Humor- Meghan’s Joy, by A.P Indy) colt from the Shug McGaughey barn. This gray/roan stretch runner has won three of his last four races including springing a 7-1 upset in the Grade: 2 Dixie back in May. Overall, he shows an 8-4-3-1 career record on the turf, so you have to love his consistency and he should be charging hard down the lane in this one……….Vyjack- is a one-time Kentucky Derby contender who recently changed barns (from Rudy Rodriguez to Bill Mott) and surfaces (dirt to grass) and seems to have taken to both. Very handsome gelding chased the top pick in his last two races and was only beaten a total of 3 ½ lengths. If you like King Kreesa as I do, then you have to like this guy too…..Honorable Mentions: Mshawish– ran a very respectable third in Dubai on Dubai World Cup Day (March 28) and won four of his last five races (including a Grade:1 at Gulfstream) prior to going over there….could better this rating…..Grand Tito– won a stakes race at Gulfstream as the 13-10 favorite in his last and always fires his best shot. Yet another who is as consistent as the day is long and, although I have him down on my list, he is not an easy throw out either.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2015- Record: 48-115 = 42%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** 2015 Florida Derby winner Materiality has been retired as a result of a soft tissue injury he sustained while training. The 3-year-old son of Afleet Alex retires with a record of three wins from just five starts and $686,028 in earnings. “Materiality was a very special racehorse, winning from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles against the best of his generation,” said Alto Racing’s bloodstock adviser Steven W. Young in a statement. “He is a good-looking individual and we expect the breeders will like him as much as we do. His Florida Derby remains the highest Beyer figure for a 3-year old this year.” “Materiality was a strong, robust horse with a great disposition,” said trainer Todd Pletcher. “He had sprinter speed with the ability to carry that speed to 1 1/8 miles.” Stallion arrangements have not yet been finalized.
**** 2014 Whitney Handicap winner Moreno has also been retired, trainer Eric Guillot said this past Monday, a day after he finished eighth in the 2015 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. The 5-year-old Ghostzapper gelding had moments of brilliance in his 29-race career, highlighted by his gate-to-wire victory in the Whitney last year. Moreno most recently won the Charles Town Classic Stakes (gr. II) and also took the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) in 2013, just one race after breaking his maiden on his 10th try. The five year old Ghostzapper gelding finished third or better in 12 of 18 graded tries through May of 2015, however, he came in eighth in his last two starts.
“When it’s that time, it’s that time,” Guillot said. “When they can’t compete at that level—he’s been too good to us to gamble and get him hurt. He’s too good of a horse to not do right by him. He’s too good of a horse to run him into the ground.” Guillot said Moreno had been battling three or four “wear-and-tear” injuries this year, but the trainer was able to keep him in racing shape. “It’s just one of those deals,” Guillot said. “I’m good, but I’m not God. It was time.”