We will be looking at two races in this weekend’s Horse Racing Race(s) of the Week. I picked out the 2013 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga Racetrack in upstate New York, (more on that in a second) where another small field (of five) will go post-ward led by 2013 Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar and the enormously talented Unlimited Budget. We will also be previewing the 2013 Delaware Handicap for fillies and mares at Delaware Park in Delaware, where two time Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta will be looking to avenge a five length drubbing in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs in her last start.
Before we get into those two races, let’s talk a little about the fact that summer racing is finally here. The Del-Mar and Saratoga meets, sandwiched perfectly between the Triple Crown series in May and June and the Breeders Cup in November, are upon us.
Del-Mar, perhaps the most beautiful racetrack in the country, opened its doors two days (Wednesday) ago for the 74th time.
Del-Mar, affectionately called “where the surf meets the turf” with its proximity being so close to the ocean, will run 37 days in 2013 on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule with an extra card for Labor Day, Sept. 2.
Some of the more notable races run at the meet include The Eddie Read Stakes (this weekend), the Bing Crosby Stakes, the Del-Mar Oaks, the Del-Mar Debutante, the Del Mar Futurity and, of course, the highlight race of the meet the $1 million Pacific Classic.
Saratoga Racetrack, “The Spa” as its nicknamed, will offer nothing short of world class racing for the 150th year in a schedule that runs from today thru Labor Day. Some of the more major races include (tomorrow’s) Coaching Club American Oaks, the Jim Dandy Stakes, the Sword Dancer Invitational, the Alabama Stakes, the Test Stakes, as well as the Whitney Handicap, the Woodward Stakes and meets highlighted race, the $1 million Travers
You can bet (no pun intended) we will be following the racing at both of these top notch racetrack/meets very closely over the next few weeks.
As far as this weekend’s major races are concerned, the opening card at Saratoga (today) shows the Schuylerville Stakes for two year old fillies going six furlongs. The always loaded Todd Pletcher stable will send out a pair of fillies in Elena Strikes, who won her debut race at Monmouth Park by almost three lengths, getting five furlongs in :59.2, and Yes Liz, who absolutely whistled in winning her debut race at BelmontPark while getting the five furlongs in an eye popping :57.4 on July 3.
Believe it or not the aforementioned Pletcher duo are the second choice on the morning line behind another impressive maiden winner (at Churchill Downs) in Bahnah, who need just :51 second flat to wallop her foes by 9 in her initial race.
Other races to keep an eye on this weekend include the Arlington Oaks at ArlingtonPark. The race, which drew seven fillies and is run at nine furlongs, is as wide open as a race can be. I wouldn’t bet it with your money, but it might be a good race to watch.
Del-Mar will be running the aforementioned Eddie Read Stakes for three year olds and up going nine furlongs on the turf. This field also looks very competitive with the good looking Fed Biz, the seven year old Jeronimo, Fly Lexis Fly, Sofast, who invades from France and Slim Shadey all looking like they have a decent chance to win.
But perhaps the most intriguing race of the weekend lies on the under-card of the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga where Eblouissante, a half sister of 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, will return to the races and tries to record her first career stakes win in the $200,000 Shuvee Handicap.
Eblouissante, whose name means “dazzling” in French, has not raced since mowing down a field of optional claimers at Santa Anita on January 17 due to a minor injury and then spiking a fever. The mammoth filly, who resembles her big sister in looks and running style, worked seven furlong in 1:27 last Sunday in preparation for this race.
“After she arrived here (New York…BelmontPark) and she has started to fill out,” said trainer John Shirreffs of the unbeaten lass (2 for 2). “She has grown a lot and has put on a significant amount of weight, so I’m really happy with the way she has developed over the last month. She looks strong. I think time is the most important ingredient in a horse’s development. Their bodies need a chance to catch up.”
Eblouissante, who is also under consideration for an optional claimer this coming Monday, drew post position 3 for the Shuvee with Junior Alvarado named to ride. She was listed at 4-1 on the morning line and I’ll tell you, I’m taking those 4-1 odds all day and half the night.
She will have her work cut out for her in the Shuvee with Authenticity, who won the La Troienne May 3 at Churchill Downs and is the 7/5 morning line favorite and Summer Applause, who won the Allaire DuPont Distaff May 18 at Pimlico and is the 2-1 second choice in the early wagering, both being entered as well.
DelawarePark – Saturday, July 20, 2013
Race 9 – 5:20 PM
Delaware Handicap. (Grade I)
For Fillies and Mares
Three Years Old and Upward
One and One Quarter Miles.
She’s All In
V R Carrasco
D K Von Hemel
C C Brown
M E Smith
W I Mott
T A Pletcher
And Why Not
M R Matz
I Ortiz, Jr.
1) Royal Delta- remains the queen of the older filly and mare division until proven otherwise.
You can draw a line thru that Dubai World Cup debacle (I knew that was a bad idea) and probably that Fleur de Lis race as well as the winner (Funny Proposition) was allowed an unchallenged early lead and had plenty left at the end.
I’m going to excuse both of those races for this well bred, (Empire Maker- Delta Princess) two time champion and pick her to win one more time, but she must have a good showing in this race.
She was all heart in winning this race last year (Tiz Miz Sue ran her guts out to finish a close second), so we know she like the Delaware surface.
“She is doing very well,” trainer Bill Mott said. “We could not ask for her to be doing any better. I would love to see her run in the Delaware Handicap the way she ran in the Fleur de Lis last year. When she runs a good one, she is awesome. She never really runs poorly and I think it gets to the point where we expect her to win, so when she does not, but still runs well, we get a little dumbfounded.”
2) Authenticity- is as consistent as the day is long as her 8-3-3-1 career record would indicate.
In fact, she’s been no worse than second in her last three (which were all graded stakes races), including her last which was a heart breaking, close loss (to Tiz Miz Sue) in the Grade: 1 Ogden Mills Phipps Handicap at Belmont in her last….appears Royal Delta’s main rival.
3) Summer Applause- has won two of her last three in New York and Maryland. She shows a 5 for 11 mark in her career and even though I’m not crazy about her recent workouts, she looks best of the rest on paper.
Honorable Mention: Centring, who shows 7 of 10 careers outing on the board. This stretch running daughter of the great A.P Indy was a very close third behind Authenticity in her last and could make a little noise in this race with what should be some high odds too.
Saratoga – Saturday, July 20, 2013
Race 10 – 5:45 PM
TVG Coaching Club American Oaks
For Fillies Three Years Old.
One And One Eighth Miles.
My Happy Face
C C Brown
Cue the Moon
H J Bond
J R Velazquez
T A Pletcher
Princess of Sylmar
T A Pletcher
1) Unlimited Budget- I still think highly of this mammoth filly by Street Sense even after her recent back to back defeats.
After rattling off four consecutive and very impressive wins to start her career, she finished third in the Kentucky Oaks after being bumped soundly at the start and then not exactly getting the best of trips….throw in the fact I’m not certain she was enamored with the Churchill Downs surface and that third place finish doesn’t look all that bad.
Next, her connections enter her in the Belmont Stakes (remember that’s the 1 ½ miles, against colts Belmont Stakes) and once again, I though she did well to finish sixth.
I’m taking her to win based on the obvious drop in class and the enormous cut back in distance angles.
2) Princess of Sylmar- no way this filly should have went off at almost 40-1 in the Kentucky Oaks…no way in hell.
I mean look at those races before the Oaks, aside from a solid second place finish in the Grade: 2 Gazzelle, she ran four titanic races in a row while winning all four easily and by huge margins.
Three for four this year and five for seven overall in her career thus far…and I’m sorry….but you can easily make a case for her being the best three year old filly out there right now.
This stretch runner by Majestic Warrior out of the Todd Pletcher barn, shows good works of late, she should be well rested (she hasn’t run since winning the Oaks on May 3) and looms a major threat in this race.
3) My Happy Face- hey listen, don’t be so quick to think this is a two horse race….make no mistake….this filly by Tiz Wonderful is a running fool.
I saw that fact early in her career when she broke her maiden in her second career start by over 21 lengths (over this very surface) then came right back and ran then two year old filly division leader Dreaming of Julia to a life and death head defeat.
From there, she finished second in the Grade: 2 Forward Gal Stakes. She then came back from six month break to win her prep for this (The Lotka Stakes) over a muddy BelmontPark surface.
Speedy filly has never been worse than second in now six career starts, has a race under her belt and merits betting respect on Saturday afternoon.
Honorable Mention: Marathon Lady, who has only been off the board one time in seven career outings and ran (a much improved) Fiftyshadesofhay to a neck defeat in the Black eyed Susans at Pimlico back in May. She rates a long-shot possibility despite the 1 for 7 lifetime mark.
Record: 11-34 = 32%
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Little Bets N” Pieces:
**** Normandy Invasion, who finished a late running fourth behind Orb in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, could miss the Travers Stakes (a race he’s been aimed at since the Derby) and possibly the rest of the year, with a foot issue, according to a report from the Daily News.
Owner Rick Porter told the Daily News that the colt has been troubled by an abscess that did not respond to normal treatment and that trainer Chad Brown has had to postpone two works because of it.
Normandy Invasion was to have prepped for the Travers in the (July 26) Curlin Stakes at Saratoga but that is now definitely out of the question.
“He could still train up to the Travers but we’ll have to see,” Porter said. “We’ll do right by the horse even if it’s waiting to bring him back as a 4-year-old.”
Normandy Invasion could be done for the year
**** Speaking of Rick Porter horses, Old Fashioned, who was undefeated in his two year old year including a 15 ½ length allowance win followed by a 7 ¼ length win in the Remsen Stakes in 2008, was represented by his first winner when Chicks Dig It scored a 5 ½ length wire to wire win in a maiden race at Presque Isle Downs this past Sunday
Old Fashioned won the Southwest Stakes in his 3-year-old debut and then came a strong second in the Arkansas Derby, but was injured shortly thereafter and retired from racing with earnings of $583,280.
Old Fashioned, shown here winning the Remsen Stakes, sires his first winner
**** 2013 Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow breezed five furlongs in 1:02 flat last week and remains on target for the Haskell Invitational (July 28 at Monmouth Park), according to trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
“He couldn’t be doing any better,” Lukas said. “We have a chance at the 3-year-old championship, and possibly Horse of the Year, so we’ll go for the million-dollar purse and grade I win in the Haskell and then come back in the Travers and try to beat those other two (Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice).”
2013 Preakness winner Oxbow is gearing up for a busy summer
**** 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan arrived at Saratoga at 6:30 am Wednesday morning and trainer Charles Lopresti raised a few eyebrows right off the bat by announcing the chestnut gelding could run next in the $750,000 Whitney Handicap (on the dirt) as opposed to staying on the turf and running in the Fourstardave Handciap as originally planned.
“I’ll watch him this week and see how he trains. Maybe I’ll work him a half-mile on the dirt,” said LoPresti, who added that the ultimate decision on where to run will be made by owner Morton Fink.
Is 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan coming off the turf again?
**** ….and finally in the now and again “This Has Nothing to do with Horse Racing” section, did you folks see Greg Van Niel, a Cleveland Indians season ticket holder, caught four balls in one game the other day?
I mean…are you kidding?….the odds on that happening were estimate to be a trillion to one according to idealseatmlb.com.
Ok, first off….why didn’t Mr. Van Niel go straight to Las Vegas after the game and start betting everything he own and second, why wasn’t I right next to him in Vegas?
Thanks for Reading….
Greg Van Niel holding three of the four foul balls he caught in the stands last week. (He gave away the 4th one to a young fan)