Grade 2 Sanford Stakes winner Bern Identity aims to follow up in Saratoga's
most prestigious test for juveniles, the $300,000
Stakes, on Monday's closing-day card. Demoted nevertheless to Grade 2 status
for its 108th renewal, the seven-furlong affair also features three unbeaten
colts from the Todd Pletcher barn -- Shanghai Bobby, Lawn Man and Overanalyze --
as well as debut rompers Fortify and Majestic Hussar.
The Grade 2, $250,000
Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar is the former Palomar Handicap and should not to
be confused with the Grade 1 event at Santa Anita, which has been renamed the
Rodeo Drive and will be held on September 29. Monday's Yellow Ribbon at 1 1/16
miles on turf will bring together a solid field of nine fillies and mares,
including the top three finishers from the Grade 2 John C. Mabee at Del Mar
earlier in the meet.
After consulting with the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective
Association and the Louisiana State Racing Commission, Fair Grounds has canceled
the remainder of the 2012 Summer Quarter Horse Meet due to complications caused
by Hurricane Isaac, pending official LSRC approval.
A quartet of colts who came undone in their most recent starts in the slop at
Saratoga headline Monday's Grade 3, $350,000
Jones at Parx Racing. The newly upgraded stakes, contested over one mile and
70 yards, is the premier local prep for the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania
Derby on September 22.
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Balance the Books uncorked a
sustained last-to-first move in Thursday's Grade 2, $200,000
With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga, denying the pacesetter Joha in the
final strides to break his maiden. A fast-finishing second in his debut over the
same 1 1/16-mile trip on the Mellon Turf, the Lemon Drop Kid colt got up by a
head in a final time of 1:42 1/5 on the firm course.
Alto Racing's Archwarrior was a "talking horse" going into his career debut
race at Saratoga, going off at cramped odds of 1-4, and the Todd Pletcher
juvenile obliged with a 3 1/4-length decision.
Sunday's Grade 1, $300,000
Stakes shapes up as a clash between Stonestreet Stables' flashy debut maiden
winners Teen Pauline and Dreaming of Julia and the established class of
Saratoga's juvenile filly division, Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes heroine So Many
Sunday's Grade 2, $300,000
Derby at nine furlongs on turf came up very contentious, with the winners of
the Grade 2 La Jolla (Old Time Hockey) and both divisions of the local Oceanside
Stakes (Midnight Crooner and My Best Brother) present as well as dangerous East
Coast shipper Howe Great, and Sunday's dynamite 11-race program at Del Mar also
features well-regarded three-year-old filly Potesta, who will return from a
71-day layoff in the $100,000
Defending Eclipse Award champion female sprinter and last year's Breeder's
Cup Filly & Mare Sprint heroine Musical Romance posted her first published
workout since a July 7 victory in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap when
breezing five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 over Calder's wet-fast track on Tuesday
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito said Thursday morning that Jackson Bend will
get the chance to defend his title in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Forego. Zito
had entered the five-year-old son of Hear No Evil Wednesday in the seven-furlong
race, but did not want to commit to running until he was absolutely certain
Jackson Bend was suffering no after-effects from a training mishap two weeks
Magnolia Racing Stable and Hidden Brook Farm's Street Life, who pulled up
after the wire and was vanned off after finishing last in the Grade 1 Travers,
has been retired, trainer Chad Brown said Thursday morning.
An impressive winner in each of her first three starts,
Executiveprivilege will look to add another prize when she squares off against
eight challengers in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000
Debutante. The Bob Baffert-trained daughter of First Samurai figures to be
an overwhelming favorite with regular rider Rafael Bejarano.
Mucho Macho Man, impressive winner of the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on July 7,
can continue his ascent into the upper echelons of the handicap division
Saturday with a strong performance in the Grade 1, $750,000
at Saratoga at 1 1/8 miles.
Al Stall Jr. continued his strong 2012 Saratoga Race Course meeting by
sending out Sign
to a 11 3/4-length debut victory on Sunday, the trainer's sixth win from 21
starts since racing commenced here on July 20.
On the morning after Dullahan ran down Game on Dude to win Del Mar's Grade 1
Pacific Classic by a half-length Sunday, trainer Dale Romans discussed the
numerous options he has with the three-year-old Donegal Racing color-bearer.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has won two of the first seven runnings of the Grade 2
Anticipation, and has a solid chance to add a third when the $200,000 test
for juveniles is renewed Thursday over the inner turf at Saratoga.
Saratoga Race Course and downtown Saratoga Springs, New York, will mark the
closing days of the 2012 summer racing meet with a Final Stretch festival that
will feature multiple activities and special events beginning Friday through
Labor Day, September 3.
Four years ago, 40-1 shot Past the Point battled his way to a second-place
finish behind two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in the Grade 1 Woodward at
Saratoga. It was the pinnacle of a solid racing career for the bay, who was on
the board in 12 of his 22 starts and earned $418,025.
Green Hills Farm's Love and Pride has been knocking heads with some of the
best in her division for a while now, and just two months ago finally broke
through with a first graded victory. On Sunday, the A.P. Indy filly trumped all
her rivals with a half-length score in the Grade 1, $600,000
Personal Ensign Invitational at Saratoga.
While all the pre-race buzz surrounded older runners and former barnmates
Game on Dude and Richard's Kid in Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million
at Del Mar, three-year-old Dullahan decided to make some noise of his own.
Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino's Obviously made no secret stratagems
for Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000
Mile Handicap. A front-running conqueror of an optional claimer in his first
try at a mile on August 2, the Mike Mitchell charge was obviously going to tear
off once again, and the wagering public sent him off as the even-money favorite
in expectation of another wire job. Obviously just succeeded, barely hanging on
by a desperate nose from the flying Mr. Commons, in a course-record time of
"One-two (finish), we'll take it either way," said Baffert, who has now
trained a total of six Pat O'Brien winners. Love That Red (2000) and El Corredor
(2001) were his first two, and his current sequence includes Zensational (2009),
El Brujo (2010) and The Factor (2011).
Trainer Chad Brown was pleased to report that Street Life, who ran last of 11
and was vanned off the track following Saturday's Grade 1 Travers, was "happy
and comfortable" the morning after suffering a soft tissue injury to his left
front pastern during the race.
Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Grade 1 Woodward candidates Stay Thirsty and
Rule to work five furlongs Sunday morning in company for Saturday's $750,000
race, with the pair firing a bullet 1:00.03 over Saratoga's fast main track.
Lothenbach Stables' Mister Marti Gras, hero of last summer's Grade 3
Washington Park Handicap, breezed Sunday at Arlington in advance of Saturday's
78th renewal of the $150,000 event, Arlington's richest race for older horses
over its Polytrack course each year.
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito was his usual philosophical self the morning
after Fast Falcon finished a fast-closing third to the dead-heating tandem of
Alpha and Golden Ticket in Saturday's Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga.
"We had been watching this horse train, and Danny Ramsey, who has a really good
talent galloping for me, was telling me how good he was doing," McPeek
went 59 and change over the Oklahoma track and that was faster than I've had any
horse work there. He went 59 there and that's like 57 anywhere else."
Shared or not, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin remained thrilled and delighted
Sunday morning by Alpha's Grade 1, $1 million Travers victory. Godolphin
Racing's Bernardini colt finished in a dead-heat for the win with Golden Ticket, trained by
Ken McPeek for Magic City Thoroughbred Partners.
From a traditional viewpoint, Saturday's Grade 1 King's Bishop was an
ambitious spot for a New York-bred gelding making his first graded stakes
appearance. Add to that the fact that Willy Beamin, who'd been claimed for
$25,000 in March, was running back on just three days rest and the word
"ambitious" would seem like an understatement.
Top Tier Lass, a daughter of red-hot freshman sire Street Boss, spread-eagled
the field in her unveiling at the Spa on July 30. After chasing the pace through
the opening quarter-mile, the chestnut took over and widened her advantage to
seven lengths, propelling herself onto the New York Watch list. Top Tier Lass
stretches out from 5 1/2 grassy furlongs, but keeps John Velazquez in the irons
as she breaks from post 1.
Gary and Mary West's Casino Host got first run on 6-5 favorite Dhaamer in
Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000
Handicap, and that prompt move by jockey Joe Talamo made the crucial
difference. Pouncing to the front in the stretch, the 7-2 chance withstood
Dhaamer's furious late rally by a neck and returned $9.60, $4.20 and $3.40.
The conclusion of Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million
Stakes was so tight that a photo was needed to determine the winner, and it turned out that Alpha and Golden Ticket had reached the finish line together,
resulting in the first dead-heat victory in the 143-year history of the
Martin S. Schwartz's Zagora bounced right back to her very best in Saturday's
Grade 2, $250,000
Ballston Spa Stakes at Saratoga, smashing the course record in the process.
By sizzling 1 1/16 miles on the firm inner turf in 1:39.07, the Chad Brown mare
eclipsed the old mark of 1:39.92 established by turf champ Leroidesanimaux here
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon that featured a historic dead-heat in the
143rd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Travers, attendance and handle, both
on-track and all-sources, were up substantially from 2011 figures.
Natalie J. Baffert's Contested propped at the break of Saturday's Grade 1,
Test at Saratoga and found herself in the unusual spot of running off the
pace, but that didn't stop the bay miss from a rallying two-length win on the
wire. With jockey Rafael Bejarano aboard, the Bob Baffert-trained sophomore
finished seven furlongs in 1:22 2/5 to return $4, $3.60 and $2.60 as the
D'nied Permission was sent off the 21-1 third longest shot on the board in
Affirmed division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder, but that didn't
stop the D'wildcat gelding from gutting out a neck victory over fellow 25-1
longshot Joshua's Comprise on the wire of the seven-furlong contest.