OCTOBER 10, 2012
by John Mucciolo
A trio of Grade 1 races topped the week of racing at Belmont Park.
Champagne S. (G1): Starlight Racing's SHANGHAI BOBBY (Harlan's Holiday) took command approaching the final turn and strode home a fine five-length winner for Todd Pletcher. Guided by Rosie Napravnik, the high-quality two-year-old finished off the one mile on the fast main oval in a swift 1:35 2/5. He's the likely favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Frizette S. (G1): Stonestreet Stables' homebred DREAMING OF JULIA (A.P. Indy) remained unbeaten from three starts, but really had to work hard in this one under John Velazquez. The well-bred Pletcher charge was a head clear under the line while stopping the teletimer in 1:37 for the one mile affair. She will probably be the second choice to Executiveprivilege (First Samurai) in the Juvenile Filles.
Jamaica S. (G1): Scarlet Stable's KING DAVID (Hat Trick) went from claimer to Grade 1 winner in posting a big upset of this field for trainer Mike Maker. The three-year-old colt handled the yielding turf course with ease in rallying on the outside to win by a half-length under Napravnik. The final time for this nine-furlong grassy test was 1:52 4/5.
Pilgrim S. (G3): Martin Schwartz and Dell Ridge Farm's NOBLE TUNE (Unbridled's Song) angled to the outside at the top of the lane and closed home powerfully to bag this event by 2 1/2 lengths under Ramon Dominguez. The Chad Brown-conditioned juvenile colt went 1 1/16 miles over the yielding turf course in 1:47 4/5. Brown also has top contender Balance the Books (Lemon Drop Kid) set for the Juvenile Turf.
Miss Grillo S. (G3): WATSDACHANCES (Ire) (Diamond Green) settled well early, was given his cue in early stretch and drove home a convincing 2 1/4-length winner under Javier Castellano. The Brown pupil traveled 1 1/16 miles on the yielding turf in 1:47 4/5 and is likely headed for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
A total of 57 races were held at the Elmont, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 49 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 63 percent of the wins during the week. From 49 races on the main oval, 15 animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (31 percent), while none of the eight races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front.
With wet conditions for most of the week, it makes it difficult to get a gauge on the turf and how it is playing. With that said, yielding ovals rarely produce an abundance of wire-to-wire winners on either of these lawns.
The main strip produced a good amount of wire-to-wire winners and horses breaking from outer posts had trouble, but much of that is also do to the smaller fields when most of the races get washed off the lawn.
HORSES TO WATCH
3RD -- SAGE VALLEY (Discreet Cat) likely didn't beat much in this off-the-turf race most recently, but still looked sharp in crushing these and came home in a solid :24. Sophomore colt sure looked good for conditioner Rudy Rodriguez.
3RD -- P J'S MAGICAL WINK (Gimmeawink) could turn out to be a fine claim by conditioner Michael Hushion after the gelded sophomore ran off to a big win on this oval in a sharp final time first out for this outfit. We'd back this fleet three-year-old next time, and move him up if the track comes up wet once again.
4TH -- FRAC DADDY (Scat Daddy) ran a huge second in this one at first asking to a more seasoned runner, and could have a decent future cut out for him for trainer Kenny McPeek. The juvenile colt is bred to handle the lawn some, but proved he could be very versatile, as well.
5TH -- TOWERING MOON (Malibu Moon) took a lot of money at first asking and rightfully so, as the Bruce Brown pupil sure looked the part in a dominating debut performance. The Empire State-bred sophomore colt was 6 1/4 lengths clear under the wire while completing his final quarter mile in :24 2/5 under a hand ride.
3RD -- DARWIN (Big Brown) was no secret in this fine debut showing for Pletcher, inching clear late to win at 3-5 odds under John Velazquez. The $1.3 million juvenile colt lived up to the hype in here and clocked six panels in 1:09 2/5, a swift final time for a two-year-old.
RETREIVE (Put it Back) was a clear second for the majority of this race and should be very tough with even minor improvement second time out for conditioner Jeremiah Englehart.
7TH -- MY HAPPY FACE (Tiz Wonderful) made the favorite (Dreaming of Julia) work for every inch of the stretch in a valiant effort, which followed a daylight maiden tally. This Rodriguez trainee is clearly among the more talented juvenile fillies on the East Coast.
8TH -- California import GOLDENCENTS (Into Mischief) could have folded when put away by the winner in here in just his second lifetime start, but the Doug O'Neill trainee stayed on well and we liked his second quite a bit. It looks like this barn has another fine prospect going forward.
5TH ? Noble Tune was as impressive as a horse could look in this one, responding as soon as he was given his cue and closing with a ton of energy. The athletic youngster could have an extremely high ceiling.
NOTACATBUTALLAMA (Harlan's Holiday) was well clear in second in this one for Pletcher, and since we're so high on the winner, we have to give this one a lot of credit for his performance, as well.
7TH -- TWICE TOLD TALE (Tale of the Cat) was last early on, but closed with very good energy in this debut run and was well clear in third in a sharp try for trainer Ralph Nicks. We think this one will be tough in her return engagement.
A Look Ahead
Saturday will play host to a pair of graded events on the lawn, the Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker Handicap and the Grade 3, $100,000 Athenia Stakes.
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