(Edited New York Racing Association press release)
When jockey Rajiv Maragh eased Godolphin Racing’s Seventh Street back into an ideal stalking position in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) June 13 at Belmont Park, he didn’t expect two other horses owned by the Maktoum family, Godolphin Racing’s Music Note and Darley Stable’s Sea Chanter, to charge up and force a furious pace.
After a four-way battle -- that also included My Dinah -- pushed the field through six furlongs in 1:09.96, Seventh Street pulled away by a length in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile race, but had little left to hold off Seattle Smooth at the finish, losing by 1¼ lengths.
Rick Mettee, Godolphin’s North American racing manager, said he expects a different scenario when Seventh Street returns Aug. 2 in the 56th running of the $300,000 Go For Wand (gr. I), a 1 1/8-mile handicap for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, at Saratoga in upstate New York.
“It wasn’t the way it was supposed to be :46 and change, 1:09 and change,” Mettee said of the Ogden Phipps.
With trainer Todd Pletcher withdrawing Sea Chanter from consideration for the race and Music Note pointing toward the fall season at Belmont Park, Seventh Street figures to hold a strong hand in the Go For Wand . The 4-year-old chestnut daughter of Street Cry has won four of seven starts, and in her lone two-turn race, she captured the Apple Blossom (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park in April under Maragh, who retains the mount.
Godolphin will, however, enter a different stablemate in the 5-year-old Doneraile Court mare Cocoa Beach, and she and Seventh Street make up an entry that is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the Go For Wand. Second to Zenyatta last fall in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I), Cocoa Beach has made one start this year, finishing last in the four-horse Floral Park Heatherten Stakes at Belmont as the overwhelming favorite.
“She needed the race the other day more than we thought,” said Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “When she breezes the way she did the last two five-furlong works at Belmont, galloping out in 1:12, we know she is doing well. I doubt she’s at her absolute peak for this, but it’s a grade I.”
The 4-year-old filly Miss Isella, second choice at 9-5, could be the horse to beat in the Go For Wand. The gray or roan daughter of Silver Charm, owned by Elaine Jones, scored back-to-back three-quarter-length victories in the Louisville Distaff Stakes (gr. II) and the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs in May and June.
Trainer Ian Wilkes will put Julien Leparoux up on Miss Isella for her first run at Saratoga. The filly closed out her 3-year-old season with a victory in the Falls City Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs.
“She’s just maturing,” Wilkes said. “Horses sometimes get better when they get older. She’s always been an honest filly; she tries. Can she compete with the elite horses? That’s something to find out.”
Pletcher will not be without an entrant. He will run multiple stakes winner Spritely, a 4-year-old bay daughter of Touch Gold , and she has been with the pace in all of her efforts, including a nose loss to Porte Bonheur in the First Flight Handicap (gr. II) June 28 at Belmont Park.
Also entered in the field of seven are Chevalier Stable’s Weathered, who won the Rare Treat Handicap and Next Move Stakes (gr. III) this past winter at Aqueduct for trainer Karl Grusmark; Color Me Up, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, and Luna Vega, trained by Steve Asmussen.
$300,000 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) Race 9, 5:30 p.m., Fillies and Mares 3-Year-Olds and up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1a. Seventh Street(KY), R Maragh, 119, S bin Suroor
2. Color Me Up (KY), A Garcia, 113, D W Lukas
3. Weathered (NY), M J Luzzi, 113, K M Grusmark
4. Miss Isella (KY), J R Leparoux, 120, I R Wilkes
5. Spritely (KY), E S Prado, 114, T A Pletcher
6. Luna Vega (KY), J Lezcano, 112, S M Asmussen
7a. Cocoa Beach (CHI), R A Dominguez, 121, S bin Suroor