One month from now, English Channel's connections will be taking dead aim at the elusive $3-million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) for a third time. But first, owner James Scatuorchio and trainer Todd Pletcher have to get the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike back on the winning track, as they must tackle six challengers in the one-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Sept. 30.
A few horses making their final Breeders' Cup preps this weekend have landed in rather soft fields. That cannot be said for the nine fillies and mares entered in the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Sept. 29, as an all-star cast has been assembled for the 10-furlong test on the turf.
Coming off a four-race win streak in California, Pam and Martin Wygood's After Market seeks a fifth straight victory and a ticket to the Breeders' Cup Mile when he leads the field of 11 in the Sept. 29 Kelso Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park.
Satish and Anne Sanan, who announced this summer they are relocating their Padua Stables' operation from Ocala, Florida, to Central Kentucky, are offering their 769-acre farm for sale.
Roshani has done very little wrong in five starts this year, winning four times, while taking money in every effort. In the $150,000 Violet Stakes (gr. IIIT) Sept. 28 at Meadowlands, the 4-year-old daughter of Fantastic Light-Sahibah will face five challengers, three that she beat handily last month. It all could add up to another victory and a soft prep for the $2-million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr.IT) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27.
There were some anxious moments for Any Given Saturday in the $150,000 Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) Sept. 22 at Belmont Park. But the 1-5 favorite eventually took over at the sixteenth pole and then pulled away for a 2 1/2-length victory in his final prep before the Oct. 27 $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
After trailing the field of eight through a half-mile, Thomas Conway's General Jumbo rallied four-wide and then held off a determined Fri Guy to win the Kentucky Cup Turf (gr. III) by a half-length in Kentucky Downs' 1 1/2-mile feature event Sept. 22.
Fairbanks may have been the 7-10 favorite, but Fred Bradley's 6-year-old Brass Hat put the youngster in his place when they hooked up in a fierce stretch duel in the Sept. 22 running of the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs.
Front-running Bear Now shook loose of the prohibitive favorite Octave in the final furlong to upset the $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) by two lengths in stakes record time at Philadelphia Park Sept. 22.
Evening Attire, Brass Hat, and Fairbanks headline Saturday's renewal of the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap, a race that has not been run since 2004.
Leading trainer Todd Pletcher will try for his fourth Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) title, as two-time Grade I winner Octave leads a field of eight 3-year-old fillies for the 1 1/16-mile event at Philadelphia Park.
A handsome son of Johannesburg brought $1 million as the top purchase during the Sept. 15 session of Keeneland's September yearling sale for a racing partnership that includes owners Jim Scatuorchio and Michael Tabor, as the session's gross, average, and median all posted modest gains.
Jockeys John Velazquez and Javier Castellano were both relatively uninjured following a Sept. 13 spill at Belmont Park. Castellano will ride the Sept. 14 card, and although Velazquez opted to take off his mounts Sept. 14, he will return to the saddle Sept. 15 to pilot his assigned starters, including Rags to Riches in her greatly anticipated Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) appearance.
Doctor Dino had not won since last October, but reuniting with jockey Olivier Peslier may have been the key to getting him over the top, as the 5-year-old French-bred courageously outfought Sunriver to win by a head in the $500,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) Sept. 8 at Belmont Park.
With Belmont's fall meet set to open Sept. 7, a strong crop of top 2-year-olds will head into the East coast's final prep races for the Oct. 27-28 Breeders' Cup races at Monmouth Park.
For the connections of the seven horses entered in the $500,000 Man o' War (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Sept. 8, decision time is drawing near for the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT).
Monmouth Park, which will host the Breeders' Cup World Championships, concluded its 75-day summer meet Sept. 2 with solid gains in attendance and handle.
Rags to Riches will not run in Saturday's Ruffian Handicap (gr.I) against older fillies and mares at Belmont Park, trainer Todd Pletcher said Wednesday morning.
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Rags to Riches worked five furlongs Sept. 2 in 1:02 3/5 at Saratoga, getting her training schedule under way after missing a work last week due to a slightly elevated temperature.
Icy Atlantic sets the new turf course record in his Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) victory at Monmouth Park Sept. 1.
Well, it wasn't another course record, but the performance by Lawyer Ron in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 1 was every bit as impressive as what he did one month earlier in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I).
Normally, a Grade I event with only four entries would be a bit of a letdown for horse racing fans. In the case of the $250,000 Hopeful Stakes, nothing could be further from the truth, as a terrific showdown between top-flight 2-year-olds is set for Saratoga's main track Sept. 3.
Diamond Fever has won four races in a row. But the 3-year-old son of Seeking the Gold-Radiant Ring will get his stiffest test yet, when he tries graded stakes company for the first time in the $100,000 Saranac Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Saratoga turf Sept. 2.
Increase purses and they will come. That fact was proven Aug. 31, as 11 horses, many of them high-profile, were entered in the 28th running of the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II).
Todd Pletcher is not expecting another Saratoga track record, but the nation's leading trainer is looking forward to another big effort from Lawyer Ron in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 1 at Saratoga.
After a postponed Aug. 26 work due to wet track conditions, Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Rags to Riches took another step back in her training program when trainer Todd Pletcher canceled an Aug. 27 workout due to the filly's elevated temperature.
With eight racing days remaining until the end of the 2007 meet at Saratoga Race Course, the track's jockey colony is tightly bunched as usual, but the shifting fortunes of several riders make for an interesting match-up as we head into closing week. Here's a look at Saratoga's top 10 jockeys and their nearly finished summer seasons heading into Sunday's card.
The much-anticipated career debut of Todd Pletcher trainee The Green Monkey will not occur at Saratoga this year, Pletcher confirmed Aug. 24.
For all those wondering if and when Wait a While would return to the form that earned her top honors in the 3-year-old filly division last year, well, pardon the pun, but the wait is over.
As a handicapper, there are three fine reasons to like 4-year-old filly India in the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) Aug. 25 at Monmouth Park: She is guided by the nation's top trainer, Todd Pletcher; aboard will be Joe Bravo, the perennial leader at Monmouth; and India seems to relish the Monmouth dirt, having gone 2-for-2 in New Jersey, including a resounding 4 1/2-length victory in the Miss Liberty Stakes July 6.
Hard Spun likely has only three races left in his career. That was conformed when it was recently announced that the Danzig colt would stand for Darley after the Breeders' Cup. That means, Saturday's $250,000 King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) may provide Hard Spun with his best chance to finally capture an elusive Grade I race, as he shortens up to seven furlongs in a test for 3-year-olds over Saratoga's main track.
The last time Unbridled Belle raced at Saratoga, the bay filly was in the midst of a long and unfulfilling summer. An 11 1/2-length defeat in the 2006 Alabama (gr. I) was just one of three sound New York losses for the then 3-year-old filly, prompting Team Valor Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher to give her an extended rest.
She loves the track, the distance and has the meet's leading trainer. She has won three graded stakes in a row and also won this race last year. If you're going back My Typhoon, the time to do it is in the $200,000 Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 23
Master Command may have been at a level over his head when he ran a well-beaten sixth in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs June 16. If that was the case, the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy looks to be on the opposite end of the spectrum for the $300,000 Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Monmouth Park Aug. 18.
Mini Sermon returns to Arlington Park Aug. 18 in search of her fifth straight victory for trainer Todd Pletcher as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the $100,000 Arlington Oaks (gr. III).
For a long time, it looked as though Octave would never break her reputation as a bridesmaid. Five consecutive second-place finishes -- all in graded-stakes competition -- earned her that tag. But two grade I wins later, all that talk is in the past.
Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches posted a five-furlong workout over Saratoga's main track Aug. 12, after which trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed the Michael Tabor-owned filly will not run in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 18. Instead, Pletcher plans to run multiple Grade 1 winner Octave and American Oaks (gr. I) winner Panty Raid, both of whom also worked Aug. 12, in the 1 1/4-mile Alabama.
On a day when nothing seemed to go right for American turf horses, it seemed only fitting that one of the nation's best was narrowly defeated in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) Aug. 11. After leading in deep stretch, last year's Million champion The Tin Man was overtaken in the final few strides by Canadian-bred Jambalaya, who rallied from well off the pace to win by a three-quarters of a length and earn a berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf later this year at Monmouth Park.
The $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) was setting up perfectly for heavy favorite English Channel. After coming from well off the pace, the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike made his usual late kick, rallying under jockey John Velazquez to take the lead as they headed for home. The only problem was, Grand Couturier had a finishing kick that was too much even for one of America's top turf horses, as the 4-year-old English-bred colt came flying along the rail to take Saratoga's feature in dramatic fashion.
The Leopard, a Storm Cat colt purchased for $2.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-year-olds in training sale earlier this year, scored in an impressive maiden special weight victory at Saratoga Aug. 11.
With the news that Better Talk Now has been scratched from the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT), English Channel is expected to be the heavy favorite Aug. 11.
Better Talk Now trainer Graham Motion announced Aug. 10 that the 8-year-old gelding was being scratched from the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) at Saratoga this weekend due to a left front ankle injury that was suffered in a race last month. The injury, which occurred in the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont June 9, seemed to be under control until Friday, when it began to fill with fluid.
It's not quite to the level of Affirmed and Alydar, but the exciting rivalry between a pair of the nation's top turf routers will renew itself once again in the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) at Saratoga Aug. 11 when English Channel and Better Talk Now clash for the seventh time.
Red Giant burst onto the national stage July 21 with a victory at 37-1 in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) and the Todd Pletcher trainee could be the horse to beat in the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) for 3-year-old turf specialists at Arlington Park Saturday.
In winning the $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IIT) July 1, Citronnade barely broke a sweat. On Aug. 11, trainer Bobby Frankel will find out if his superb 4-year-old filly will finally be challenged, as she headlines the field of seven in the $750,000 Beverly D. (gr. IT) for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up on the turf at Arlington Park.
Under a confident ride from Garrett Gomez, Any Given Saturday moved past pace-setting Cable Boy, then caught Hard Spun in mid-stretch and pulled away for a decisive 4 1/2-length victory in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
Entering the Aug. 5 $150,000 Taylor Made Matchmaker Stakes (gr. IIIT), Roshani had the race's most impressive resume. Once jockey Garrett Gomez put the 4-year-old filly in perfect striking position, the rest of the field had no chance.
Hines Racing's Lawyer Ron overcame an outside post position to set a track record while defeating a formidable field in winning the $810,000 Whitney Stakes (gr. I) Saturday at Saratoga.
It's time to step up. The June retirement of Invasor, the defending Horse of the Year and 2006 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner, has left a giant void at the top of the handicap division.
Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Rags to Riches was pulled up Sunday morning shortly after beginning a five-furlong workout at Belmont Park.
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