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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM


Thursday 7/17 – Friday 7/18

By Jim Hurley


Thursday 7/17

Race 1 – As daylight win by Hawk’s Eyes showed, more than even Saratoga, connections love to win at the meet and even big drop downs like this one (25K – 10K) still get a price ($7.00) when fields are full.

Race 2 – Ditto Race 1 as Bird In Love, claimed for 50K out of maiden claimer on 6/12, returns vs 20K rivals and romps. Runner up Full Of Spice, much improved for Peter Miller, set pace into deep stretch in first since December and held place spot. Breaks maiden here vs same.

Race 3 – Not much to take out of second level allowance/optional 62.5K claimer in which Grade I placed My Happy face was a distant third in 6 furlong sprint in which 5 of 6 were off layoffs.

Race 4 – Slow bunch of 20K maiden claimers saw Peter Miller trainee win in virtual front running fashion in slow time first off the same price claim. Runner up followed winner around the track from far turn home and was 5 lengths clear of show horse. Nothing of note.

Race 5 – First turf race over newly lengthened and widened Jimmy Durante course saw first two out of the gate in mile and a sixteenth second level allowance/optional 62.5K claimer finish 1-2. Winner Super Ability is dedicated front runner who couldn’t sustain bid at a mile vs same in previous and place finisher Full Dancer had nothing but pace setting and pressing races in PP’s. European shipper and post time favorite Kokaltash was slow away and steadied yet still unfurled sharp rally for the show on a surface that proved to be very front end friendly throughout the opening week. Turf played to speed and stalkers during opening week. If and when turf course begins to play even a bit honestly the show horse will be a definite play vs the same or even better.

Race 6 – Other than sharp MSW juvenile winner Smack Talk, who in first start of career easily dispatched his rivals in 5 furlong sprint with professional 4 wide stalk and rally, not much to take out of race run in relatively slow :59 flat.

Race 7 – Longshot Know Plans switched up from slow start history and under new jock Stewart Elliot (he surprised at Keeneland this spring and is worth following) broke on top from rail in one mile NW2L 40K starter allowance and was never challenged. Allowed to lope through soft fractions the Unusual Heat gelding held on by a safe enough margin of victory. Against soft pace the runner up Romar’s Success (placed) and Cinmar’s Dance (show) rallied from next to last and last. Worth following vs same.

Race 8 – Given that the turf course continued to favor speed/pressers/stalkers throughout the week one has to be very impressed with last to first rally by Enterprising in winning the Oceanside Stakes. Home School (third) battled a number of rivals in setting pace and did good job to hold minor award. Sunny Mandeville (fourth) broke through gate at start, tried to move up from outside post and was caught much wider than comments in charts indicate. He is worth following…specially since it was only career start number four and he is eligible for entry level allowance status.

Race 9 – First of two “bombs” sent out by trainer Gary Sherlock (6% conditioner) in opening week the 30-1 shot measured the 20K claiming field from his outside post and swept by in late stages. Runner up was 18-1 rail horse left from post 1) who moved up late along the fence and was a neck in front of the show horse. While the race didn’t feature any killers or consistent runners it did show that the rail on the main track was not the worst place to be early in the meet.

Friday 7/18

Race 1Champion Risk, a juvenile daughter of Bluegrass Cat, went wire-to-wire in :58 3.5…two ticks faster than the gelding that beat MSW foes in :59 flat a day earlier. She was claimed by Tim Yankteen and has a future. First time starter Suite One relaxed in stalking position early and moved late with good interest to distance the rest.

Race 2 – 4-year old first time starter Macho Sox wired the 6 furlong 20K maiden claimer from the rail and 3-year old first time starter was a length and a quarter back in second and 2½ lengths clear in second at the finish after following the winner around the track. Not much in this one.

Race 3Favored Boozer broke just off the pace setter in entry level allowance/optional 20K claimer at mile and a sixteenth on turf and drew clear inside the furlong marker. Runner up Benba stalked in third and followed the winner under the wire while third place finisher Frensham was just off the top two throughout.

Race 4 – Top two finishers ran 1-2 all the way around the track in 6 furlong 20K maiden claimer and turned in pretty quick time for the level. Tribal Dude dropped in and finished in 1:10 3/5 while runner up Super Boot was 4 lengths clear of the show horse in 1:11 2/5. Fair Grounds shipper Pioneer Charlie was sent off the favorite in his first start since December, was claimed by Jack Carava but after a few efforts to move with the pace early never seemed to get his footing and ran like a horse that disliked the surface.

Race 5 – Speed on the main track continued to hold court as winner Run Sophie Run and second place finisher One Magical Girl broke second and third in bottom level (8K) claiming sprint and moved in tandem at the quarter pole. Siempre Esperanza made first start since October and showed late interest. Should improve off the race.

Race 6 – The 5 furlong turf sprint had conditions written in that was practically an open race despite it being billed as a third level allowance/optional 80K claimer. The race was won by last out winner Pure Tactics, who made a strong middle move and prevailed over a pair of classy layoff horse in Akeny Hill (last out 2/14) who set all the pace before giving way late and Graded Stakes winner Caracortado (lat out Sept. 2013) who was moving well late and ran out of ground. Second and third place finishers will move forward in next.

Race 7 – California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Stakes for juvenile state bred fillies was a two lass affair as Ghostzapper filly My Fiona got up by a neck in solid sustained effort to beat 3-5 favorite Lost Buss, who settled nicely off the early pace, put a head in front in mid-stretch and although failing to hold off the winner in the 5½ furlong test was 8¾ lengths in front of the show horse. Both are nice looking fillies moving forward.

Race 8 – In mile and a sixteenth MSW turf test favored Unusually Green (Unusual Heat progeny seem to love this turf course) sat comfortably in stalking position early, waited just 2½ lengths off the dueling front runners at the 5/16ths pole and got up late over longshot Lucky J Lane. The latter was making his first start since November at Hollywood, stalked along the inside, made a bid along the rail in the stretch, moved to the lead and just weakened in the final strides to drop a half length decision while 2 lengths clear of the show finisher in the 12 horse field. Won’t be a maiden much longer. 

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Friday 7/18

Race 1 – As is always hoped, Longshot Players got off to a great start as Winter Games dropped to the lowest point in his career in 25K claimer and went wire-to-wire in 9 furlong main track affair. A preview of things to come was in place as a number of contenders began to move at the leader as they turned into the lane but allowed to get his first half mile in :49 3/5 the winner held on for a nose margin with a final 3 panels in :37 as Goodnewsisnonews couldn’t totally overcome the slow early pace. The runner up, however, is worth following off the good race and claim out of it by Steve Asmussen.

Race 2 – For some reason trainer Michelle Nevin continues to be on the radar of only the most discerning players and her well bred first time starter By The Moon (Indian Charlie out of a Malibu Moon mare) was quite impressive in tracking the early pace of the 5½ furlong MSW test and rallying 5 wide to claim victory. Longshot (24-1) firster Ring Knocker also turned in a sharp effort as he swept to a 2 length lead in mid-stretch before surrendering a ¾ length victory to the winner while 9¾ lengths clear of the show horse. The son of Birdstone won’t be 24-1 net time.

Race 3 – Only 4 signed on to test odds-on Fashion Alert in the Schuylerville Stakes for juvenile fillies and did what she was supposed to do at 1-5, but got all she wanted from runner up Take Charge Brandi, who made the early pace battled her through the lane when collared by the favorite in mid-stretch. The Wayne Lukas trainee was 7¾ lengths in front of the show filly and seeing that her only other start was a 4½ furlong MSW win at CD she probably has plenty of upside.

Race 4 – Speed continued to hold sway on the main track as first time starter Street Blush stalked early, moved into contention (1½ lengths back) at the quarter pole in the 6 furlong MSW event and ran down the pace setter inside the sixteenth marker as that one held onto the pace. It was the third straight second place finish for Megsamelia, who beat 19-1 longshot Running Wild, who was making her first start since November, by a neck. Other than the track starting to indicate a bit of speed preference there isn’t much to take out of this race.

Race 5 - Can’tstopbelieving was much the best in this mile and 3/8ths entry level allowance turf test. The 3-year old Duke Of Marmalade colt was patiently handled by John Velazquez as he dropped into this comfy spot following a rallying third in the Pennine Ridge Stakes in his previous race. Velazquez kept him wrapped up along the rail throughout the backstretch and far turn run, bided his time under a hold until the furlong market and got all he asked for when he urged the colt. Runner up My Afleet kept the lead while jogging through a pedestrian pace as he kept in front of Special Agent, who lost all kinds of ground from the outside post and was caught wide through the first mile of the race before getting held up a bit looking for room and settling for fourth. Given the slow pace, third place finisher Papy is worth a further look as he did the best he could with a strong rally.

 Race 6 – First time starter Graham Crackers broke a neck off the pace setter in this 5½ furlong NYSB juvenile MSW for fillies and dug in to claim a half length win over longshot (14-1) The Lewis Dinner who got into second from 5th in mid-stretch but couldn’t go by the winner while well clear of the show filly. Race was a tad slow but the runner-up did show enough interest to warrant a look next out vs state breds.

Race 7 – In an odd-occurrence open 50K one mile turf claimer it appeared as though the race was going to go through the graded stakes placed duo of Tiz Sardonic Joe and Joe’s Blazing Aaron. But right before they were set to go postward, Tiz Sardonic Joe through a shoe and because he ran without what was originally listed as equipment he ran for purse money only. Now taking all the money that would have been split between the two, jockey Javier Castellano wasted little time putting the odds-on Joe’s Blazing Aaron on the front end and he was never caught as he negotiated the distance in 1:35 over Tiz sardonic Joe, who tracked in second (a ½ length back) and Monument Hill, who was another length back in third and was the runner-up of record for the exacta. Where’s Danny filled out the trifecta but was well back of Monument Hill with a late rally and definitely needs more ground.

Race 8 – In a seemingly well-matched field of 5 1.2 furlong turf entry level allowance distaffers, Arlington shipper Aventure Love never gave the group a chance. The English bred daughter of Orpen (Lure) has always looked like her grand sire since coming to the states 4 races back. She made the pace and faded late in a pair of mile test at GP and then at the same 5½ furlongs at Arlington carried the speed to victory at the 50K claiming portion of an allowance/optional claimer in her previous. She took the lead out of the gate and when they came at her she shook clear outside the furlong marker and held sway to the wire. Runner-up Kiss Me Lola did run on well for the place as she shortened up from a 7 furlong effort under the same conditions at Belmont in her prior and just needs a bit quicker start to eclipse the level if she sprints again at Saratoga. However, Kiss Me Lola is a prime example of why finding the right sprint/closer at 5½ furlongs (only turf distance short of a mile) is so tough at the Spa.

Race 9 – Since moving to the turf the Bill Mott trained 3-year old colt Tourist had shown the potential to be a good one…breaking his maiden with a press and pop win at a mile and a sixteenth at GP and then following a 4 month layoff returning to blitz entry level allowance grass foes at a mile at Belmont he stepped forward again and went wire-to-wire here in the grassy mile Sir Cat Stakes. That being said, runner-up Ring Weekend might also have as bright a future in front of him now that trainer Graham Motion seems to have fixed what ailed him throughout the spring following an ill-fated attempt to get on the Triple crown trail following a dramatic win in the Tampa Bay Derby. That was the highlight and in his last two starts he was bumped and steadied repeatedly in the Preakness Stakes and was beaten 12 lengths and flashed speed and was pulled up and vanned off in the Pegasus Stakes 6/15 at Monmouth. In the Sir Cat it looked as though Velazquez allowed the son of Tapit to find his own way as he broke in mid pack, settled off the pace while outside on the backstretch, moved up under mild urging on the far turn and with Tourist long established by that point, Ring Weekend continued to pick up ground through the lane and without being stressed easily claimed the place. Turf is where he belongs and more distance will suit him just fine. It is not beyond reason to think Motion will find a good spot later in the meet and won’t be reticent to move him up in class.

Race 10 – In NYSB filly & mare MSW test November layoff filly Jet Majesty returned to walk the field through a :49 1/5 and 1:14 pace as she went wire-to-wire to cop top honors in the mile and a sixteenth test. Three stalkers had the opportunity to move on her early and a trio of closers picked up pieces late but none were able to get by and she actually was pulling away again late after the closers got within a neck inside the sixteenth pole. Not much out of this one.    

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