As many of you know, the horse racing season is broken up into three distinct phases. Phase one is the Triple Crown series, phase two encompasses both meets at Saratoga and Del Mar and the last phase is the Breeders’ Cup in the fall.
We enter into the second phase this week as both Saratoga and Del Mar, two of the most premier racing meets anywhere in the world, open their doors for the summer.
Both locales are incredible in their own right; Saratoga holds a “hallowed ground mystique” while Del Mar, “where the surf meets the turf” is nestled into one of the most beautiful places in the United States.
Needless to say, it’s great time of year in this sport and we jump right in as we will be looking at five races and all of them being at one track or the other.
The two highlighted races will be at Saratoga as we will be looking at the $500,000 Diana Stakes for three year olds and up fillies and mares on the turf and Sunday’s Coaching Club American Oaks for three year old fillies.
Also on Saturday at Saratoga, we will be looking at the Sanford Stakes, a six furlong, $150,000 contest for two year olds.
At Del Mar, we will look at a pair of Grade: 2 races in the San Diego Handicap, for three year olds and up, and the San Clemente, which is run a flat mile on the turf.
Saturday, July 21, 2018
Saratoga Race Course
Race: 9 (5:22 PM EST Post)
This 2YO race has eight entered with a total of 10 starts combined. These sort of races continue to be very difficult to figure out. That said, I’m taking Sombeyay, who although being bumped repeatedly throughout, won his April 27 debut nicely (by 6 lengths) at Gulfstream Park. This $230,000 son of Into Mischief then nearly fell on his face at the break of the $150,000 Tremont Stakes at Belmont on June 8, but was charging hard, late, to just miss winning, being beaten by just three quarters of a length. Figures bang up here with a good break plus he has recorded four good works since, including one at Oklahoma…………..narrowest of margins over the well named Dream Maker- who was visually impressive circling the field with a brazen run on the turn for home while winning his Churchill racing debut. This gray colt by super-sire Tapit has three good works since, including one on this oval, in preparation for this. In taking Sombeyay, this colt scares the heck out of me………………….Although Bano Solo registered a so-so speed figure (61) and a so-so final time (5F – :59 flat) in wiring a MSW field in his debut at Churchill Downs, it must be noted he was basically being pulled up some 50-60 yards before the finish line, signaling to me there is “more there”……..but what’s up with that last (slow) work on July 16?……………………..Honorable Mentions: Strike Silver also wired maidens in his Churchill debut and, although he scored the highest speed figure in this field (76) and has worked very well since, he was going “all out” and barely lasted at five furlongs. The step up in class and stretch out in distance looks like it’ll be challenging for him in this spot…………………………Lexitonian stalked the pace and took over in deep stretch to win his Belmont debut on June 27. This chestnut by Speightstown covered five furlongs in a strong :57.4 that day and could better this rating……………………Knicks Go is still another who, albeit extremely greenly, wired the field in his debut. This son of Paynter also stopped the clock in a very good :57.4 and rates a look here.
Race: 10 (5:55 PM EST Post)
If you know me, you know now and again I’ll say such and such trainer comes in this this race with a solid or formidable 1-2 punch. It is rare that I say a trainer, and in this case Chad Brown, comes into the Diana with a “three headed monster” including two of the better female turf horses in training today. He clearly hold all the cards in this race! Led by the gorgeous Sistercharlie, who was almost 30 lengths behind in the early stages of the New York Handicap in her last, but came roaring around the far turn and down the lane to miss winning by a head. It was one of the most spectacular efforts I’ve seen all year long. This filly has also only been worse than second once in eight career starts, registered back to back “trips” in her last two races and shows a big work (5F- 1:00.3, dogs up) two weeks ago, signaling to me she is sitting on another huge effort……narrow margin over stable-mate A Raving Beauty who is unbeaten in two starts since coming from overseas. This daughter of Mastercraftsman could not have been any more impressive in winning the Grade: 1, one mile, Just a Game Stakes in a supersonic 1:32 flat in her last. This distance will be no problem for her and she is a serious threat in this spot……………………..Proctor’s Ledge finished right behind A Raving Beauty in her last and is 2 for 2 in her career on the turf at Saratoga………………………..Honorable Mentions: New Money Honey- is 5 for 9 on the turf and won her seasonal debut nicely in her last. If she improves off of that race as I suspect she should, she could be a menace here………………..Hawksmoor looks to be the lone speed in here which, right off the bat, makes her dangerous. However, she also appears to be cycling out of form………………..If you are going to play Ultra Brat off her titanic win in her last, proceed with caution as she appears to like an off turf course and that might have been helpful to her in that race.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Race: 7 (8:00 PM EST Post)
San Diego Handicap
When Accelerate demolished the field in the Grade: 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita in his last, it marked his second Grade: 1 win and his third victory in four starts in 2018. This five year old by Lookin’ at Lucky is 3 for 5 at Del Mar and is obviously in peak form right now. That half mile work last week (:48.2) signals to me he is holding that form for this race…..logical choice here……………… At first glance, Sharp Samurai looks like he’d be better off on the grass but that’s not necessarily the case. Yes, he is 6 for 8 lifetime on the “weeds”, but I’m seeing several strong works on the dirt of late and if you go way back into his PP’s, you’ll see he broke his maiden by almost 10 lengths on the dirt surface. I loved his 2018 debut as he lowered his head and took off through the final furlong on June 17. Of course, regular rider Gary Stevens getting the leg up never hurts your chances either. That said, he is cross entered in the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar on Sunday and at this writing I am unclear as to which race he will run in.……………….…I’m not sure what to make of Dr. Dorr who showed little in the Suburban at Belmont in his last. On one hand, trainer Bob Baffert wheels him right back (11 days later) in this spot, signaling to me the Suburban took nothing out of him and he is ready to go again, plus the cut back in distance should only help here. Yet, on the other hand he is showing me signs of cycling out of form……your call from there………………..Honorable Mentions: Catalina Cruiser is intriguing to me. This $370,000 son of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags overcame a slow start to win his six furlong debut back in October. He was then given 7 ½ months off but came back to run a hole in the wind in manhandling mid-level optional claimers back in May and scored a 106 BRISNET high speed figure in the process. Although he’s been working lights out for the past 6-8 weeks, the fact still remains he will have to go 2 ½ furlongs (sprint to route) further than he’s ever gone before and he’ll be taking a huge step up in class………………………..I hate to put Dabster this far down the list as I still believe his has a good amount of talent. It could very well be he just “needed” his poor performance in the San Carlos last time out as it was his first race in over four months. If that’s the case, then he will better this rating……………I wonder what trainer David Jacobson has up his sleeve with shipping Harlan Punch across the country to run in this spot? My guess is this five year old gelding, who decimated the field in the Philip Iselin at Monmouth in his last, is doing so well that he is going to “take a shot” here, which may not be such a bad idea…….watch the board two or three minutes before post time with this horse, it may provide some answers to my questions.
Race: 8 (8:30 PM EST Post)
San Clemente Stakes
Ms. Bad Behavior is 4-2-2-0 since being put on the grass by 17% winning turf trainer Richard Baltas. I liked her last race as she set the pace and held very well late at nine furlongs, so logically the cut back to a mile in this spot should help her tremendously. Lastly, I found it very interesting jockey Kent Desormeux hops off the second pick to ride this filly in this spot. That, readers, sometimes will speak volumes…..my best guess in an extremely wide open, 14 horse field…………………………. Although Ollie’s Candy has never run on the grass before, she is bred for it and her one and only work over it was ok. I love the way this unbeaten (3 for 3) filly dug in and refused to lose down the lane in her last. Big threat………………I hate to put Animosity in the third slot as she looks to have a big chance also. This gray filly by Animal Kingdom is another who set the pace in her last at nine furlongs and also held very well late in finishing second to the talented Paved in her last. Like the top pick, she too should benefit from the cut back in distance…………………………………Honorable Mentions: West Palm Beach shipped over from Great Britain to beat high level optionals in her U.S. debut before charging hard, late, to be beaten by just 2 ½ lengths in the Grade: 2 Senorita Stakes in her last at odds on. Filly by Scat Daddy possesses a strong late run and could easily better this rating………………………………..Flammetta- who is another who possesses a strong late run and is in good form right now, and Rockin Ready- who has either been first or second in all five career starts both step up in class but both could be long-shot bombs in this spot.
Sunday July 23, 2018
Saratoga Race Course
Race: 9 (5:40 PM EST Post)
Coaching Club American Oaks
Although I have deadlines to meet, there was no way I could let the 2018 CCAO, which drew far and away the two best three year old fillies in the land, go by without analyzing it. So, I burned the old Midnight Bisou….I mean oil…..to get it done. This is one of those rare times when, although I studied the past performances, they really didn’t have a huge impact on my analysis of this race. If you recall I did something similar in the 2018 Kentucky Derby when I trusted my eyes of nearly 40 years of watching Horse Racing over the past performances and picked Justify to win. That said I’m going with Midnight Bisou here under the same pretenses. After decimating the three year old filly division on the West Coast this filly, by the hulking Midnight Lute, brought her mega talents to the East Coast and won the Grade: 2 Mother Goose so easily, it was frightening to me. I mean I was waiting for jockey Mike Smith to bust out a thermos and pour himself a cup of coffee through the final furlong as she was on “cruise control” yet still opened up on the field at will. I continued to watch her as she came back to the winner’s circle and it was as if she was saying “ok, that was fun…what’s next”? ..”She came out of that race (Mother Goose) in such great shape and it didn’t really take anything out of her,” said co-owner Jeff Bloom said. “The Alabama is still a definite target for us as well. It’s not like our filly has had an ultra-hard campaign and the nice thing about the Coaching Club is it gives her the opportunity to get a race over the track, and timing isn’t that much of a challenge for her considering the Mother Goose wasn’t that taxing for her.” …Yes, after nothing short of a horrendous trip, she was beaten by Monomoy Girl in the Kentucky Oaks and yes, Monomoy Girl has clearly run higher speed figures. Once again, I’m trusting my eyes here….oh and lastly, did I mention she is now trained by Steve Asmussen? I’m sure THAT won’t hurt her chances either………………………I mean absolutely no disrespect to Monomoy Girl– who really needs no introduction and is clearly the three year old filly division leader based off her three consecutive and impressive Grade: 1 wins. (Ashland Stakes, Kentucky Oaks and Acorn Stakes). I love the versatility this daughter of Tapizar has shown in winning seven of her eight career starts (and is a neck shy of being unbeaten) as she can beat you from on the pace, slightly off it or come from way behind and she even has a pair of grass wins early in her career. Her speed figures have climbed steadily throughout her career and suggest she is still getting better…which is a scary thought. “She’s training extremely well. She did all her breezes since the Acorn at Churchill because that is home for her and she does really well there,” trainer Brad Cox said, who also trains a filly for Denise, my editor, and I. “She’s in great form right now. Her last few works have been fantastic, she certainly hasn’t regressed. We certainly expect a big effort out of her Sunday.”……….If she beats me here, and she may very well do just that, I’ll tip my hat to her and probably never pick against her ever again……………………Although Eskimo Kisses- has just two wins out of eight career starts, I’ll take her for the “show dough”. By the very handsome To Honor and Serve, this filly chased Monomoy Girl twice in her last two races and wasn’t completely embarrassed by her when finishing second in one and close up fourth in the other.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2018- Record- 55-137= 40%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012: Record: 24-73= 33%
2011- Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%
Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** 2018 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow is pointing to the Aug. 12th Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, his connections announced last Friday, with long range plans including a start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.
Should he fair well in the one-mile le Marois, trainer Saeed bin Suroor said plans would then call for Thunder Snow to prep for the Breeders’ Cup with a start in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes Sept. 29th at Belmont Park.
“We are planning to take Thunder Snow to the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park … but want to give him a race in Europe first. That could be the Prix Jacques le Marois,” bin Suroor said. “Thunder Snow is fine—he just needed a break. The ultimate target this year is the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
**** Graded stakes winner Gunnevera, sidelined with a sore foot since the March 31st Dubai World Cup, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 flat at Gulfstream Park West last Saturday in preparation for a return to racing.
The 4-year-old colt had been resting in Ocala, Fla. for two months to give the hoof time to heal before returning to trainer Antonio Sano’s Gulfstream Park West stable a few weeks ago.
“Gunnevera is doing very good. We’ve had no issues with him these last few weeks and have taken our time with him,” Sano said. “We’re going to look for a race in early August for him at Gulfstream, and then the Woodward at Saratoga (Sept. 1) is the plan. He’s been very good at Gulfstream and Saratoga. The Woodward is the first big race we want to make with him.”
**** Multiple Grade: 1 winner Bolt d’Oro will be moved to the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen after he finishes a freshening at Mick Ruis’ farm in Lexington, K.Y., according to Spendthrift Farm general manager Ned Toffey.
The decision was made by Mick Ruis himself, who previously trained the Medaglia d’Oro colt, according to Toffey.
Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift does not own a stake in Bolt d’Oro for his racing career but has partnered with the Ruis family for the colt’s stud career.
“Steve Asmussen is as good as there is,” Toffey said. “Mick spoke with us, spoke with Mr. Hughes, and we were on board with the idea. And we’re happy to have them there, but this was Mick’s recommendation.”
A future race target for the colt has not been determined.
**** Multiple Graded Stakes winner and fan favorite Say Florida Sandy died on July 11. Although a full necropsy is pending, the 24-year-old stallion died from an apparent heart attack.
“It’s been a privilege to retire one of the top New York-breds of all time,” said Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm President Michael Blowen.
“Sandy was a very sensitive stallion, so he was placed at Hurstland Farm in Midway, Kentucky.”
Say Florida Sandy spent most of his seven year racing career in New York, where he won several New York sprint championships and New York Horse of the Year titles in 2001 and 2002.
The former claimer was retired in 2003 with 33 wins (17 at the stakes level) from an eye popping 98 starts and career earnings of $2,085,408.
Among his most important victories were the True North Handicap, Philadelphia Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap, Bold Ruler Handicap and twice won the Gravesend Handicap.
Say Florida Sandy, who entered stud in 2004, stood for 10 years at Buckridge Farm in Kinderhook, New York and was then pensioned to Old Friends in 2014.
**** Grade 1 winner Honour and Glory has died at Haras Rapetti, near Canelones, Uruguay, at the age of 25.
Bred by Overbrook Farm, Honour and Glory was purchased by Coolmore bloodstock agent Demi O’Byrne for $410,000 at the 1995 Barretts March 2 Year Olds in Training Sale.
Honour and Glory went on to win five Graded Stakes all told, including the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.
Retired to Ashford Stud in 1997 for an initial fee of $20,000, Honour and Glory produced a first crop that included Caressing, champion 2 year old filly and Grade: 2 winner Put It Back.
Honour and Glory was shuttled to both Australia and Argentina for 12 seasons but spent his last five years at stud in Uruguay. To date he has sired 71 black-type winners on dirt and turf.
**** Multiple Stakes winner Lady Aurelia has been retired, Stonestreet Stables bloodstock advisor John Moynihan said on Wednesday.
“She’s sound and doing well. Peter and (Stonestreet owner) Barbara (Banke) just decided it was time,” said Moynihan, who added mating plans have not yet been determined. “She’s been great to everybody. She retires as one of the great ones, that’s for sure.”
“I was probably a bit selfish and lobbied to keep her going,” trainer Wesley Ward said. “She’s so sound—kicking in her stall, feeling so good. I still felt there was more running in her. I wanted to keep her running, and I thought a race at Keeneland—if she could have rebounded, she would have been set up for Breeders’ Cup. But I wholeheartedly stand by the owners’ decision (to retire her).”
“She’s been a tremendous filly and fantastic to me and the owners,” Ward added. “Now I look forward to her next career. Hopefully, she can have a foal who is as good as she was. That’s what we all hope for.”
Lady Aurelia retired with five wins from 10 starts and $834,945 in earnings.