Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 25, 2016 at 2:26 PM
SPA SHOTS - Saturday, July 23
NOTE - After main track played cuppy on Friday times were relatively quicker on Saturday, indicating some maintenance was done in between.
RACE 1 - 25K Claimer - NW2L - 6 ½ Furlongs - 3 YO-Up
Todd Pletcher had first and second favorite when they left the gate but only one finished. Favored ZAMJARA was pulled up on the 7/16ths pole and vanned off while second favored MONEY CHANGER went right to the lead and wired the field in a sharp time. He appears to like the surface and will win again. Also nice effort from second place finisher AFLEET MARTINI first try vs winners.
RACE 2 - 1 1/16th Mile Turf - MSW - 2 YO Fillies
Second career start and stretch out from 6 furlongs to 8 ½ did the trick for Scat Daddy filly CONQUEST SURESHOT. After running even third in debut she kicked it in late and drew clear ($15.00) and should move forward vs open company. Favored Meridian tried to wire the field from the rail and fell just short. OUR STORMIN NORMAN was bumped hard twice and squeezed back to last and then steadied off heels entering the first turn. Still improved late...bears watching.
RACE 3 - Grade III SANFORD STAKES - 6 Furlongs - 2 YO
As expected the two favorites dominated the short 5 colt field. BITUMEN, a Mineshaft colt easily measured the field and drew clear late at just shy of even money while RANDOM WALK pressed the early pace, took the lead at the furlong marker and held second after getting passed by the winner. Each fared well and should go longer.
RACE 4 - 40K Maiden Claimer - 6 Furlongs - 3 YO-Up
Not much to hang on to here as winner came from 6th place and runner up from fourth and it was 4 lengths back to third and another 4 back to fourth. COME AS YOU ARE dropped out of MSW ranks and at $4.60 outlasted third choice ONLYTHESHADOWKNOWS who was claimed by Danny Gargan.
RACE 5 - 5 ½ Furlong Turf Sprint - NW1X Allowance - 3 YO-Up
Competitive entry level allowance turf sprint went to BIG ROCK ($15.80) by a nose over the late charging LORD OF LOVE. The winner chased the pace from the outside while close up and took over in a blanket finish while the runner up might have been best as he had to wait on rivals and after angling out at the sixteenth pole came 5 wide through the lane. Third place finisher CORT set the pace from the outside and was a length short in a decent effort.
RACE 6 - 5 ½ Furlong MSW - 2 YO
In a competitive field that featured a number of well-bred, well-connected youngsters 5 of the juveniles went off between 2.9-1 and 5.8-1. As is often the case the Pletcher first timer ONE LINER prevailed with a stalking trip in third before drawing clear. ROYAL COPY and PRETTY BOY FLASH were each making their second career start. The former ran well in defeat as he pressed the pace and gave way grudgingly while the latter tracked in fourth and moved into third late. Longshot SOUTH SEA also showed late interest and as a Bill Mott runner will improve second time out, possibly two turns on turf.
RACE 7 - 1 1/16th Mile Turf - NW2X/Optional 62.5K Allowance - 3 YO-Up
This second level allowance with a 62.5K claiming option drew a strong field of mid-distance turf runner and was won by Graham Motion trained ASCEND ($9.40.) The 4-year old has now finished first 3 times and second 4 times in his last 7 starts as he stalked and drew clear. Runner up SLIM SHADY closed a ton of ground for the place, which he has done much of lately while pace-setters ADIRONDACK DANCEER and WITH EXALTATION gave way inside the sixteenth pole. Favored INORDINATE had multiple problems throughout. SLIM SHADY was taken by Mitchell Friedman and TAGHLEEB by Michael maker for the hefty claiming price.
RACE 8 - 1 Mile Turf - NW1X/Optional 80K Allowance - 3 YO-Up
Tote board fireworks as the too-often over bet Chad Brown entry (odds-on) was nowhere to be found. OUR WAY saved ground early and moved between runners in the stretch to gain the lead and then held off TIZARUNNER who was shuffled back early, had to race three wide early and then kick out 8 wide in the lane before grabbing the place. HOCKEY SCHOOL tracked early from outside, moved up steadily and gained the lead at the furlong market before weakening late.
RACE 9 - 1 1/8 Mile - NW1X Allowance - 3-YO-Up
You had to go back to the sloppy Preakness Stakes of 2015 to find his last decent race but TALE OF VERVE was able to outlast odds-on favorite MY MAN SAM in short field of plodders. The winner visited the winners circle for the second time in his career while the favorite measured the field, appeared to be ready to take over but fell just short in a stretch long battle. It was the first start since the Kentucky Derby for MY MAN SAM but he still should have handled this group. It was 4 ½ lengths and more back to the other runners.
RACE 10 - Grade I DIANA STAKES - 1 1/8 Miles Turf - 3 YO-Up Fillies & Mares
Phenomenal rendition of this significant Grade I test saw two noses and a head separate the top 4 finishers. Chad Brown's DACITA continued her 4-year old development as she not only was still last of 10 at the 3/8ths marker but had to move 3 wide on the turn and sweep 6 wide through the lane before bumping back and forth with the second and third place finishers out in the middle of the course through the lane. RECEPTA got a good trip as she saved ground in mid-pack and in the lane was able to split rivals for the final furlong test. Longshot RAINHA DA BATERIA also tracked from the back early, rallied inside the winner through the lane and just missed. Favored MISS TEMPLE CITY was making her first start since returning from a major stakes at Ascot only 5 weeks earlier and though she did have to wait on horses a bit got a good inside trip and just wasn't good enough.
RACE 11 - 25K Claimer - 1 1/16th Mile Turf - 3 YO-Up
Favored ARIPEKA pressed a moderate pace from the start and after putting away the two pace setters took the lead inside the furlong marker. But he had no excuse when both PROCUREMENT ($14.60) and DREAM MAN came from well off the pace to complete the exact. ARIPEKA was beaten a neck for second. DENDRITE was fractious in the gate and lost all chance when he broke 5-6 lengths behind the leader after wrestling with the starter when the gate sprung. For all that he rushed up to take the lead a quarter mile in and then gave way. DREAM MAN was haltered by Gary Contessa, fourth place finisher WINTER SPRINGS was taken by Raymond Handal and Brad Cox grabbed THE IMPOSTER.