Sunday, August 30, 2009

Personal Ensign On Tap Today at the Spa

Saratoga Race Course

Personal Ensign is one of my favorite horses of all time. She was retired in 1988 with a record of 13-0. She capped her undefeated career by winning what I believe to this day is the greatest race in the history of the Breeders' Cup when she rallied from far back on a sloppy track to catch Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors at the wire in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

The $400,000 Grade I Personal Ensign Stakes for fillies and mares three years old and upward is named in her honor. The race is carded at 1 1/4 miles over the main track and a field of eight is expected to contest the race.

Horses To Watch for the Personal Ensign

Icon Project - Post 6 - M/L 7/2
She has raced only twice on dirt in ten starts but has a win and a place to show for that. Won the New York Handicap at Belmont over a muddy track by more than 13 lenghts and may have bounced slightly from that lifetime best Beyer to finish second in the Delaware Handicap over a dry track last out. Positive jockey change today should improve her chances. Julian Leparoux rides for Marty Wolfson.

Unbridled Belle - Post 2 - M/L 5/2
This is the 3rd straight year she has run in the Obeah, Delaware Handicap and then the Personal Ensign. She ran 2nd in this race two years ago after a bad break from the gate and 3rd last year to Ginger Punch. She is generally in the money and Todd Pletcher puts his main man Johnny V. aboard today.

Swift Temper - Post 7 - M/L 4/1
She is the best of the limited early speed in here and she should be winging it early. She won the Delaware Handicap in her last and lost twice at Churchill to Miss Isella before that. Her last two Beyers were 100+. Allan Garcia rides for Dale Romans.

Miss Isella - Post 4 - M/L 3/1
Of her 6 lifetime wins 5 have come at Churchill and none were in a Grade 1. She won the Fleur De Lis and Louisville Distaff at Churchill before running second in the Go For Wand after a poor break at this meet. She seems to have the talent to win here but also seems to be a Churchill lover. Calvin Borel takes back the mount for Ian Wilkes.

Del Mar Handicap the Sunday Feature

Del Mar

The $250,000 Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap for three year olds and upward to be run at 1 3/8 miles over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course is the Sunday feature at Del Mar. A full field of ten are expected to contest the race.

Horses To Watch for the Del Mar Handicap

Spring House - Post 8 - M/L 5/2 - Solis / Canani
Artiste Royal - Post 9 - M/L 3/1 - Gomez / Drysdale
Black Astor - Post 10 - M/L 4/1 - Talamo / Lewis
Obrigado - Post 7 - M/L 6/1 - Bejarano / Drysdale
Temple City - Post 2 - M/L 12/1 - M. Baze / Gaines

Summer Bird Wins Travers

Saratoga Race Course

Summer Bird raced close to a fast pace set by first Our Edge and then Kensei to about the quarter pole and then powered past on the sloppy track to win the 140th running of the Travers Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths over a late charging Hold Me Back. Quality Road also raced clost to the pace throughout and held on for third. Summer Bird became the 30th Belmont winner the last 59 years to win the Travers.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Travers Day Comes Up Sloppy

Saratoga Race Course

A sloppy track and soft turf course is what greets the 140th running of the $1 Million Grade I Travers Stakes for three year olds to be run over the main track at 1 1/4 miles today at Saratoga. A solid under card is featured on Travers Day including a $1 Million guranteed all graded stakes Pick 4. Lets see what we can do to help you cash in.

$200,000 Grade 2 Balston Spa Handicap - 1 1/16 miles Mellon Turf Course

Horses To Watch for the Balston Spa

Rutherienne - Post 1 - M/L 5/2 - Garcia / Clement
My Princess Jess - Post 2 - M/L 5/1 - C. Velasquez / Tagg
Closeout - Post 3 - M/L 8/1 - Albarado / Proctor
Cocoa Beach - Post 7 - M/L 2/1 - Dominguez / bin Suroor

$300,000 Grade 1 Ballerina - 7 Furlongs

Horses To Watch for the Ballerina

Indian Blessing - Post 4 - M/L 8/5 - Johnny V / Baffert
Informed Decision - Post 2 - M/L 2/1 - Leparoux / Sheppard
Music Note - Post 1 - M/L 5/2 - Maragh / bin Suroor

$300,000 Grade 1 Kings Bishop - 7 Furlongs

Horses To Watch for the King's Bishop

Munnings - Post 2 - M/L 2/1 - Johnny V / Pletcher
Big Drama - Post 8 - M/L 3/1 - Coe / Fawkes
Capt. Candyman Can - Post 3 - M/l - 4/1 - Castellano / Wilkes
Vineyard Haven - Post 1 - M/L 7/2 - Garcia / bin Suroor
Everyday Heroes - Post 1A - M/L 7/2 - Prado / McLaughlin

$1 Million Grade 1 140th Travers Stakes - 1 1/4 Miles

This race looked a week ago like a matchup between the winners of all three Triple Crown winners of 2009. Rachel Alexandra will instead go in the Woodward against older horses next week and Mine That Bird had to pass after having throat surgery just 9 days ago. Still, this race has come up with a solid field this year.

Horses To Watch for the Travers

Quality Road
He was the Kentucky Derby favorite prior to being sidelined by a quarter crack. He is 4 for 5 lifetime with four 100+ Beyers. Questions are he has never raced on an off track or around two turns but at his best he wins. Johnny V. rides for Todd Pletcher.

Winner of the Jim Dandy here and the Dwyer at Belmont in his last two and Asmussen thinks enough of him to put the big horse (Rachel) on the sidelines today. He is 1 for 2 on wet tracks and 2 for 2 at the Spa. He has a big shot if Quality Road doesn't handle the distance or the off track. Edgar Prado rides for Steve Asmussen.

Summer Bird
He won the Belmont and ran second to Rachel in the Haskell on an off track. His sire Birdstone won this race in 2004. Kent Desormeaux rides for Tim Ice.

Warrior's Reward
He beat Munnings in an Allowance over an off track at Churchill Downs turning in a 113 Beyer. He ran second to Kensei in the Jim Dandy and third in the Dwyer in his last two but his chances should improve today with this track condition. Calvin Borel rides for Ian Wilkes.

Del Mar Mile is the Saturday Feature at Del Mar

Del Mar

The $300,000 Grade II Del Mar Mile is the Saturday feature at the seaside track. The race is carded for three year olds and upward and will be run at 1 mile over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Horses To Watch for the Del Mar Mile

Monterey Jazz - Post 7 - M/L 7/5 - Flores / C. Dollase
Becrux - Post 4 - M/L 3/1 - Talamo / Sadler
Ferneley - Post 9 - M/L 5/1 - Rosario / Cecil
Allicansyis Wow - Post 3 - M/L 20/1 - Gomez / Biancone

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bernard Baruch Highlight on Friday at Saratoga

Saratoga Race Course

The $200,000 Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap for three year olds and upward to be run over the Inner Turf Course is the highlight of the Friday card at Saratoga. The race is shaping up as a rematch of the Fourstardave from earlier in the month.

Horses To Watch for the Bernard Baruch

Justenuffhumor - Post 1 - M/L 9/5 - Garcia / McLaughlin
Cowboy Cal - Post 5 - M/L 5/2 - Johnny V / Pletcher
Mambo Meister - Post 3 - M/L 8/1 - Lezcano / Gleaves
Colony - Post 1A - M/L 9/5 - Maragh / bin Suroor

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rachel Alexandra To Run In Woodward

Saratoga Race Course

Trainer Steve Asmussen announced on Monday that his star filly Rachel Alexandra will run next in the Woodward Stakes against older horses at Saratoga on Saturday, September 5th. Rachel will try to become the first female horse to ever win the Woodward.

Asmussen said that his 3 year old colt Kensei, winner of the Jim Dandy Stakes will race in this Saturday's Travers. Both Rachel Alexandra and Kensei are owned by Jess Jackson.

Upon word of this decision, the New York Racing Association increased the purse for the Grade I Woodward to $750,000 in hopes of attracting a top field for the race.

In other Rachel news, two online betting services including TVG have agreed to contribute a total of $400,000 toward making the the October 3rd Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park a $1 Million purse should both Rachel Alexandra and the undefeated older mare Zenyatta run in this race. No word yet from the connections of either super star as to whether such a dream match-up will actually take place.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

State Bred Stakes On Tap Today at Beach & Spa

After a steady stream of graded races at Saratoga and Del Mar, a pair of state bred stakes top the cards at both summer racing venues today.

Del Mar
The $100,000 Solona Beach Handicap for California bred fillies and mares three years old and upward at 1 mile on the turf is today's feature to end the week at Del Mar.

Horses To Watch for the Solona Beach

Flashover - Post 8 - M/L 7/2 - Talamo / Abrams
Bootleg Annie - Post 4 - M/L 5/2 - Gomez / Walsh
Hot N' Dusty - Post 1 - M/L 2/1 - Solis / Abrams
You Lift Me Up - Post 6 - M/L 4/1 - Rosario / Hollendorfer

The $100,000 Yaddo Handicap for New York bred fillies and mares three years old and upward to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the Inner Turf course highlights the Sunday card at the Spa. There should be a huge crowd on hand today as it is also free long sleeve T-shirt day.

Horses To Watch for the Yaddo

Nehantic Kat - Post 7 - M/L 3/1 - Maragh / Tagg
Stormy Relations - Post 1 - M/L 8/1 - Prado / Donk
Chestoria - Post 5 - M/L 7/2 - Dominguez / Badgett
You Go West Girl - Post 6 - M/L 4/1 - Albarado / Proctor

If this race is taken off the turf -- (Entered For Main Track Only)
Weathered - Post 13 - M/L 2/1 - Luzzi / Grusmark

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Alabama Looks Like Anybody's Race

Saratoga Race Course

The $600,000 Grade 1 Alabama Stakes for 3 year old fillies highlights the Saturday card at Saratoga. The race is carded at 1 1/4 miles over the main track and a field of 8 will contest the Alabama.

Horses To Watch for the Alabama

Funny Moon
She won two straight including an optional claimer by more than 8 lengths and the Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont in her last. Alan Garcia rides for Christophe Clement.

Careless Jewel
She has won three straight including crushing the competition in the Delaware Oaks in her last while posting a 104 Beyer. The second place horse in that race ran second in the Monmouth Oaks next out. RC Landry rides for Josie Carroll.

Wynning Ride
Winless since breaking her maiden at Santa Anita last fall but ran a close 3rd in the CCA Oaks in her last. Kent Desormeaux keeps the mount for Bob Baffert.

Don't Forget Gil
Ran second in the CCA Oaks in her last and won the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa this spring. She is always close but usually doesn't win but she has been working well for this. Rajiv Maragh rides for Mark Henning.

Iselin Attracts Quality Field

Monmouth Park

The Phillip H. Iselin Stakes may now be a Grade 3 race but it still offers a $300,000 purse and still attracts a quality field. The Iselin is carded for three year olds and upward and will be run at 1 1/8 miles over the main track. A field of 7 will contest the race.

Horses To Watch for the Iselin

Coal Play
He has won two straight including the Salvatore Mile on this track with a 110 Beyer. There is speed to his outside but he will likely be the best of the speed in this race. Joe Bravo rides for Nick Zito.

Solar Flare
He ran 3rd in the Salvatore Mile but has two 100+ Beyers so far at this meet. Trainer wins a high percentage of graded stakes and trainer/jockey combo wins at 34% in 2009. Gabriel Saez rides for Larry Jones.

He won three in a row at this track before running 4th in an overnight stakes in his last. Trainer/jockey combo wins at 36% this year and he would have to improve but he has a chance to do that here. Elvis Trujillo rides for Jane Cibelli.

Well Monied, Strawberry Tart Highlight Del Mar Oaks Field

Del Mar

A field of ten three year old fillies will compete in Saturday's $350,000 Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks at the seaside track near San Diego. The race will be run at 1 1/8 miles over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Horses To Watch for the Del Mar Oaks

Well Monied
She had won three straight including the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap before running into Gozip Girl in her last in the American Oaks at Hollywood. She will be running late. The red hot Joel Rosario rides for Howard Zucker.

Strawberry Tart
She lost by a nose in the Grade 2 San Clemente on this course but has shown early speed in the past and seems to be the lone speed in the race today. Very consistent Beyers in the 90's. Martin Garcia rides for Jeff Bonde.

She won the San Clemente at 11/1 after being 6 wide over two of today's rivals and seems to be improving. However, a lifetime best Beyer in her last could indicate a bounce candidate and the fact that Solis gets off are concerns. Brice Blanc rides for Patrick Gallagher.

She has run 3rd in her last two but looks to be getting used to being in the US. Showed good form and two wins at Kempton before crossing the pond. This is her first race back from a minor freshening and Solis chose this one. Alex Solis rides for Patrick Gallagher.

Hermoine's Magic
She won her first US start over this course after looking sharp in England. She is lightly raced. Her winning Beyer was a little low but her trainer is putting up a high percentage (27%) of wins in graded stakes. Mike Smith stays aboard for Kathy Walch.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lake Placid on Tap For Friday at Saratoga

Saratoga Race Course

The $150,000 Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes for three year old fillies to be run at 1 1/8 miles over the Mellon Turf Course is the feature today at a very wet Saratoga. The turf course has recently been downgraded to soft and two other races later on the card have been taken off the turf.

Horses To Watch for the Lake Placid:

Miss Keller
She is trained by Roger Atfield and has only raced over soft turf. She is making her first US start today but has looked good in Ireland. Desormeaux has seen enough to take the mount.

She goes for her 4th straight win today and won the Grade 3 Regret on a good course at Churchill. Jose Lezcano rides for Tom Proctor.

She won the American 1,000 Guineas at Arlington in May before being well beaten in the Lake George which was taken off the turf here. She won on a good course here last year. Johnny V. rides for Shug McGaughey.

Shared Account
She missed by a head in the VA Oaks over a course rated soft. She has been in the money in both turf starts, both on wet courses but she is coming off a lifetime best Beyer in her last. Edgar Prado stays aboard for Graham Motion.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Saratoga Special Looks Wide Open

Saratoga Race Course

Today's featured $150,000 Grade II Saratoga Special for two year olds at 6 1/2 furlongs over the main track seems to be a fairly wide open affair. Nine two year olds are set to contest the Saratoga Special on what may be a wet track if the weather forecast holds for today and there is no shortage of first rate connections with entries in this race.

Horses To Watch for the Saratoga Special

Tiny Woods
He was impressive in maiden debut at Del Mar in July and has been working well since arriving at the Spa. Baffert doesn't bring them east unless they have a chance and Mike Smith comes along for the ride.

He broke his maiden by 7 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track at Calder and then ran second in an overnight stakes at that track in July after being caught at the wire. Prado stays aboard in first start for Rick Dutrow.

He broke his maiden at first asking by 6 3/4 lengths in 4 1/2 furlong sprint at at Keeneland in April. He stretches out to 6 1/2 furlongs today and tries dirt for the first time. Johnny V. rides for Todd Pletcher.

He broke his maiden in second attempt by more than 7 lengths over a sloppy track at Churchill in July and has been favored in both lifetime starts to date. Solid dual 75 Beyers over off tracks in both outings to date. Shaun Bridgmohan rides for Steve Asmussen.

Flatter Than Me
He ran second to the winner in the Bashford Manor at Churchill who returned to win here on 7/30. 4th place finisher from that race also won here next out. Impressive works since arriving here at the Spa and could be ready fora big effort today. Robby Albarado stays aboard for Merrill Scherrer.

Zip Quick
He ran second in the Hollywood Juvenile in his last with an 81 Beyer and gets first lasix today. A negative is that he has no published works on dirt but a positive may be that he seems to like running from off the pace in a speed filled race. It is probably not a great sign that jockey Talamo remains at Del Mar today but Julien Leparoux aboard is a plus for Patrick Biancone.

Fearless Cowboy
He won the Colin Stakes at Woodbine in his last after a second in the Victoria Stakes two back. He has been able to sit off the pace in all starts so far and should like the added distance today. He comes to the US to make his first start for Kiaran McLaughlin who names first call rider Alan Garcia to ride.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2nd Half of Spa Meet Starts Today With Adirondak

Saratoga Race Course

The final 18 days of the 2009 Saratoga meet begins today and on the card is the $150,000 Grade II Adirondak Stakes for two year old fillies to be run at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

The Adirondak has attracted a strong field but more surprising is who is not in the field today. The Steve Asmussen trained Hot Dixie Chick who won the Schuylerville on opening day is not in the field today. Instead, Asmussen sends out Dashing Debbie who broke her maiden in her first attempt in a stakes race at Calder winning that race by more than 10 lengths.

Others of note in the Adirondak are the Ken McPeek trained Beautician who after a strong maiden win at Churchill Downs ran second in the Schuylerville; the D. Wayne Lukas trained Decelerator who was 2 for 2 at Churchill and won the Grade 3 Debutante before running 6th in the Schuylerville; and the Asmussen trained Camille's Appeal who is 2 for 2 after winning the Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star Park in her last; there are also three more horses in the field who broke their maiden first time out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Plenty of Speed In John C. Mabee Stakes

Del Mar

There is an abundant amount of speed in the $350,000 Grade I John C. Mabee Stakes on Sunday at Del Mar. The Mabee is carded at a mile and an eighth for fillies and mares three years old upward to be run over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Mr. Mabee for whom the race is named was an original board member of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and was the President of this organization for 25 years. He also was a founding member of Breeders' Cup, Ltd. Mr. Mabee and his famed Golden Eagle Farm won three Eclipse Awards for best breeder in the 90's and campaigned runners the likes of Best Pal.

Horses To Watch for the John C. Mabee

Magical Fantasy
She has won her last two after troubled trips in each and is 1 for 1 at Del Mar, winning the Del Mar Oaks in 2008. A drawback is this is her fourth time in a year to be coming off a layoff and her running lines show no first out wins while doing that. Her pace stalking style fits well here. Alex Solis rides for Patrick Gallagher.

Tuscan Evening
She looks to be the fastest of the speed in the race and is trying for her third straight win and sixth in her last seven starts. Showed she can rate while stalking the pace and winning by a nose in a Hollywood Park Grade 2 in her last. The red hot Joel Rosario rides for Jerry Hollendorfer.

Patricia's Gem
Another of the speed horses and she set the pace in that Hollywood Park Grade 2 before being run down by Tuscan Evening. She is trying for her fourth win in her last five starts. Victor Espinoza rides for Richard Mandella.

She ran 4th in the BC Filly & Mare Turf last fall and has been right there in all 2009 starts with no wins. Her closing style fits this race well and the added distance today may help. Brice Blanc rides for Bobby Frankel.

Gotta Have Her
She is another whose closing style fits the race well and looks like she could benefit from the added distance today. She had two wins over the winter at Santa Anita and is running her third race of the current form cycle and looks like she may be ready to run a big race today. Tyler Baze rides for Jenine Sahadi.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grand Couterier Tries For 3rd Straight Sword Dancer Score

Saratoga Race Course

The $500,000 Grade I Sword Dancer Invitational is the feature today at the Spa. The race will be run at a mile and a half for three year olds and upward over the inner turf course and features an international field and some old rivals.

Horses To Watch For the Sword Dancer

Grand Couterier
He ran 5th to Gio Ponti in the Man O' War at Belmont in his last but is winless in two starts this year. However, he loves this course and has won this race each of the past two years plus the jockey/trainer combo is winning at 50% this year. Alan Garcia rides for Robert Ribaudo.

Moves to the US from France where he was trained by Andre Fabre. He won a Group II in his last in May at Longchamp and has been training well since coming to the US. He gets a 5 pound weight break off his last race plus first lasix today and this barn wins at a 15% rate with fist in US horses. Johnny V rides for Todd Pletcher.

Ran 3rd to Gio Ponte in the Man O' War in his last and has 100+ Beyers in 2 of 3 North American starts. He won the Group I Premio di Milano in Italy each of the past two years and ran 6th to Eastern Anthem in the Dubai Sheema Classic this spring. World traveller has raced in 6 different countries over the last year and brings his jockey with him today. A. Starke rides for Peter Schiergen.

Was caught in the lane by Gio ponte but held on for 2nd in the Man O' War and won a Grade 3 at Woodbine in June at this distance. Has been in top form in his last two and has been working well for this. J. Jones is in from Woodbine to ride for Roger Atfield.

Better Talk Now
He won this race in 2004 but has not won at all since 2007. He did rally from 6 wide to finish 2nd to Grand Couterier in this race last year and his 3rd place behind Gio ponte in the Manhattan in June may indicate he is turning things around. He is 10 years old now and has been on a 10 week vacation since the Manhattan but has two bullet works since then. Ramon Dominguez is back aboard today for Graham Motion.

Closed from 20 lengths back to take second in the United Nations at Monmouth Park in his last with a 102 Beyer. He seems to perform better on firm turf which is expected today and that last race could indicate he is ready to run a big race but he would have to do that against a much deeper field today. Jorge Chavez rides for Andreas Wohler.

La Jolla Handicap Looks Wide Open

Del Mar

The featured $150,000 Grade II LaJolla Handicap at Del Mar looks to be a fairly wide open race with no graded stakes winners and several recent maiden winners in the field. The La Jolla is carded at a mile and a sixteenth for three year olds over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Horses To Watch for the LaJolla

I'll Show Them
He is 2 for 2 and moves up to the stakes level after an impressive win on the grass at Hollywood Park in 80K Optional Claimer over rival Gretzky in his last. Martin Garcia rides for David Holmans.

He has a turf win over this course in his last and is 2 for 2 at this distance on the turf. Must respect his connections and he may well go off the favorite. Garrett Gomez rides for Neil Drysdale.

He ran 3rd after traffic trouble in the Oceanside over this course and has hit the board in all three attempts on the lawn. Jockey/trainer combo clicking at a 24% win clip. Joel Rosario rides for Jerry Hollendorfer.

He ran 5th as the favorite in the Oceanside here on opening day after going wide around both turns and weakening in the lane. He had won two in a row on the lawn before that and has hit the board in 4 of 6 turf starts. Alex Solis rides for Richard Mandella.

Herr Mozart
He has been the favorite in 3 of his last 6 races and has run 4th in his last two in the Oceanside here and the Grade III Cinema at Hollywood Park. Others look better in here but this trainer has a way of getting it done in big races. Victor Espinoza rides for new Hall of Fame inductee Bob Baffert.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mott Plays Strong Hand In Hall of Fame Stakes

Saratoga Race Course

Trainer Bill Mott has not one but two horses who could win the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes today at Saratoga. The $150,000 Grade II event for three year olds will be run at a mile and an eighth over the Mellon Turf Course.

The Mott horses, Al Khali with Norberto Arroyo Jr. and Courageous Cat who who is going for his third straight win with Kent Desormeaux aboard will take a considerable amunt of the betting in this race. Straight Story who has run second in his last two at Colonial Downs with Johnny Velasquez aboard should also be one of the favorites in here.

Other horses worth watching in this race include No Inflation who just missed in the American Derby at Arlington looks good especially when you consider jockey Robby Albarado has won 42% of the time in 2009 with trainer Alan Goldberg. Sal The Barber with Ramon Dominguez up for Christophe Clemont won an over night stakes at Belmont in his last. El Crespo ran a close second in a Grade II at Churchill Downs two races back and a return to that form puts him in the mix here plus Julian Leparoux has won 41% of the time for this barn in 2009.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Baffert Enters Hall With Outstanding Credentials

Saratoga Springs, NY

It is a long way from the Quarter Horse circuit around Nogales, Arizona to the Hall of Fame but that has been the 30 year journey of Bob Baffert. The silver haired Southern California trainer who quite simply just wins will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame on Friday in Saratoga Springs.

Baffert's credentials include victories in eight Triple Crown races and earnings that rank him 6th on the all-time earnings list. He won the Kentucky Derby three times with Silver Charm, with Real Quiet who narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown, and with War Emblem.

Joining Bob Baffert in entering the Hall of Fame this year are Steeplechase trainer Janet Elliot, who is only the second woman and first woman trainer elected to the Hall, and jockey Eddie Maple who retired in 1998 with 4,398 victoies. The horses entering the Hall this year are Baffert's Eclipse Award Winning Mare Silverbulletday, two time Horse of the Year Tiznow, and Steeplechase legend Ben Nevis II.

We salute all of the 2009 Hall of Fame inductees.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Zenyatta Tries For # 12 in Clement Hirsch

Del Mar

Zenyatta, who is trained by John Shirreffs and ridden by Mike Smith, is undefeated in her 11 lifetime starts and tries for her 12th straight win in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes today at Del Mar.

A field of ten is expected to contest the Hirsch at 1 1/16 miles over the Del Mar Polytrack. The primary competition for Zenyatta should come from her stable mate Life is Sweet who ran second to her in the Milady Stakes and then ran 3rd in the Hollywood Gold Cup against the boys in her last race. Another of note in this race is the Richard Mandella trained Patricia's Gem who is 3 for 4 in 2009 and is capable of carrying her speed wire to wire in here.

A win by Zenyatta today will put her one win shy of the 13-0 mark for a thoroughbred running a campaign on a major circuit which was accomplished in 1987 and 1988 by the great Personal Ensign.

The only problem with Zenyatta's one big run closing style is you have to wonder if she will get there in every race she runs. Will she get there today? We'll see.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vanderbilt and Honorable Miss On Tap at the Spa

Saratoga Race Course

A pair of classy Grade II stakes headlines Sunday's 11 race card at Saratoga. First up is the $150,000 Grade II Honorable Miss at 6 Furlongs on the main track for fillies & mares three year olds and up and the $250,000 Grade II Alfred G. Vanderbilt at 6 furlongs for three year olds and up also on the main track.

In the Honorable Miss, Game Face was installed the even money favorite on the morning line after a dominating performance in a Calder Grade I in her last. Porte Bonheur won her last at Belmont and Dominguez is 3 for 4 riding her. She is 2 for 3 at Saratoga. Keep The Peace ran 2nd to Game Face at Calder and has a positive jockey change to Leparoux today.

The Alfred Vanderbilt features what should be a Grade I field with 2008 Sprint Champion Benny the Bull headlining the 6 horse field. "Benny" is going for his first win in 2009. Kodiak Kowboy won the Grade I Carter at the Big A and should figure in the outcome here. Fatal Bullet ran second in the BC Sprint last fall and won his only start of 2009. Fabulous Strike beat "Benny" on an off track at Belmont and lost to Kodiak Kowboy this year.

Einstein and Gio Ponti Headline Deep Field In Arlington Million

Arlington Park

A trio of Grade I races on the turf with the usual international participation along with several ungraded stakes are on tap for Arlington Million Day at Arlington Park in suburban Chicago on Saturday.

First up is the $400,000 Grade I Secretariat Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on the turf for 4 year olds.

Horses To Watch for the Secretariat

Going for fourth straight win after winning the American Derby over this course in his last. Posted a sharp work earlier this month at Keeneland and his pace stalking style fits well here. Julian Leparoux has been aboard for those three straight wins for Rusty Arnold.

Take The Points
He posted the top Beyer in this field (109) while finishing a close third in the VA Derby last out on a course rated good. Finished a close fourth in the Colonial Turf Cup prior to that. Has yet to win against graded stakes company but may be ready for a big race today. Kent Desormeaux rides for Todd Pletcher.

Black Bear Island
He has not handled Group I company in Europe but did win a Group 2 at York in May. All of his races have been on courses rated good to yielding which may be the case today. He is the lone entry on the day for top trainer Aidan O'Brien who has brought his first call rider Johnny Murtagh along to ride.

Giant Oak
He ran fifth to Reb in the American Derby but took down the Arlington Classic over this course in May. He held his own against the Triple Crown contenders in the spring prior to moving to the lawn and has been working well for this but his Beyers are a bit below the top contenders. Eusebio Razo Jr. rides for Chris Block.

Next up is the $750,000 Grade I Beverly D. at 1 3/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares three years old and up.

Horses To Watch for the Beverly D.

Pure Clan
Has won or been close against Grade I company in Kentucky and California and won the Modesty over this course on Million Preview day. If the win in the Modesty indicates a return to 2008 form, she is a contender. Julian Leparoux rides for Robert Holthus.

Black Mamba
Won the Grade II Beverly Hills at Hollywood in her last and has a Grade I win to her credit in 2008. She is always close at the end. Garret Gomez rides for John Saddler.

Won the Grade I Flower Bowl last fall and has been close against Grade III company in her only two 2009 starts. Has been working well for this and could be ready to run big today in third start of the year. Bill Mott has named his go to rider, Kent Desormeaux to ride.

Has not faced Group 1 company but has won or been close against Group 2 and 3 company in Europe. Seems to be the best of the Europeans in here and may be ready after winning the Group 3 Prix Messidor in France in her last. C. Soumillon rides for Alian Dupre.

Finally, we have the $1 Million Grade I Arlington Million at 1 1/4 miles over the turf for three year olds and up. This is the 28th renewal of the world's first million dollar race and who could ever forget the first Million won by the legendary John Henry in a head bob over The Bart in a race that no matter how many times we have seen this replay over the years still looks like a dead heat.

Horses To Watch for the Arlington Million

Named by me in May as the top American horse in training after winning the Big Cap at Santa Anita and the Turf Classic by a hard fought head at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. Ran third in the Steven Foster after traffic trouble in his last and we will see today whether his will to win can overcome the likes of Gio Ponti. Julian Leparoux rides for Helen Pitts.

Gio Ponti
He is going for his fourth straight Grade I win after taking down the top two turf races at the Belmont spring meet. He seems to be the "now" horse and many out there are calling him the best turf horse in America right now. Ramon Dominguez rides for Christophe Clement and this combo has clicked at 27% in 2009.

Gloria De Campeao
Globe trotting runner won the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International in Singapore in his last and ran second to Well Armed in the Dubai World Cup prior to that. Has switched barns since and has been off for two months but has proven he fits well here. Tiago Pereira rides for P. Bary.

Mr. Sidney
He has three wins over yielding courses and his chances improve if the expected weather is a factor today. He won the Grade II Firecracker at Churchill Downs in his last and the Grade I Makers Mark Mile at Keeneland this spring. Posted a bullet work at Saratoga earlier this week and is 5 for 7 lifetime on the lawn. Kent Desormeaux rides for Bill Mott.

Presious Passion
Wired the field in the Grade I United Nations at Monmouth Park in his last and has posted 5 straight 100+ Beyers. Has handled wet and firm courses and will be flying early today. Elvis Trujillo rides for Mary Hartman.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Commentator Looks Toward History In Whitney

Saratoga Race Course

The $300,000 Grade I Test for three year old fillies at 7 furlongs and the $750,000 Grade I Whitney for 3 year olds and upward at a mile and an eighth highlight an 11 race card at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday.

Horses To Watch In the Test

Cat Moves
Undefeated and winner of the Grade I Prioress after breaking in the air in her last at Belmont. Johnny Velasquez rides for Anthony Dutrow.

Heart Ashley
She was trounced after setting the pace in the Prioress but is 3 for 4 in 2009. Edgar Prado rides for Steve Asmussen.

First Passage
Going for her fourth win in a row after taking the Grade III Azalea at Calder in her last. She will be running late. Alan Garcia rides for Marty Wolfson.

Purchased by Godolphin after winning the Nassau County at Belmont for her third straight win but ran third and was no match for Rachel in the Mother Goose. This field may be more to her liking. Richard Migliore rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Horses To Watch for the Whitney

At age 8, he is possibly racing for the last time today as he tries to win the Whitney for the third time and put his name with the likes of the legendary Kelso to accomplish that feat. He did not seem to like racing at night in his first start this year at Charles Town and he overwhelmed an Allowance field at Belmont in his last. If he is himself, he wins. Johnny Velasquez rides for Nick Zito.

Smooth Air
He has posted 5 straight 100+ Beyers. He won the Gulfstream Park Handicap this spring and then ran a good second in the Met Mile and Salvatore Mile. Should be stalking a fast pace today. Jose Lezcano rides for Chad Brown.

Dry Martini
He won the Suburban and is going for his third straight win. He seems to be the closer in what looks like a hot pace today. Edgar Prado rides for Barclay Tagg.

Macho Again
He won the Grade I Stephen Foster over rival Asiatic Boy and the very tough Einstein in his last and looks to be in top form right now. Robby Albarado rides for Dallas Stuart.

Asiatic Boy
Finished a close second to rivals in this race in the Stephen Foster and Suburban in his only two races in this country. He is the winner of more than $3 Million although most of that has been in Dubai. Alan Garcia rides for Kiaran MxLaughlin.

Zensational Looks Good In Bing Crosby

Del Mar

Zayat Stables Zensational who is trained by Bob Baffert has been established as the 4/5 morning line favorite in the $300,000 Grade I Bing Crosby Habdicap on Saturday at Del Mar. Victor Espinoza has the mount.

Others of note in the 6 furkong Bing Crosby field are Talkin To Mama Roo who is taking a giant step up in class off a Hollywood Allowance race with Tyler Baze aboard, Delta Storm who ran 4th in the Ancient Title at the Oak Tree meet last fall with Joel Rosario aboard, and Global Hunter who won the Grade I Eddie Reed here last weekend but is returning to a sprint distance for the first time since his maiden race with Cory Nakatani aboard.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Quality Road Returns in the Amsterdam

Saratoga Race Course

You know you are at Saratoga when there is a Grade II race as the feature on Monday afternoon. The $150,000 Grade II Amsterdam for tree year olds at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track highlights the end of week 1 of the 6 week Saratoga meet.

Horses to Watch in the Amsterdam

Quality Road
With a hard fought win over Dunkirk in the Florida Derby, Quality Road established himself as the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby but a quarter crack sidelined him throughout the Triple Crown series. In the meantime, he was moved from the barn of Jimmy Jerkins to the barn of Todd Pletcher. Recent works indicate that he is ready and the Beyers in the spring were sensational. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Everyday Heroes
He was a sharp 2nd to Munnings in his last in the Woody Stevens at Belmont in June. Other than that, he has won all four of his other races and sprinting actually seems to be his game. He is making his first start for the Kiaran McLaughlin barn and Alan Garcia rides.

Capt. Candyman Can
Couldn't handle Quality Road in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream but then won the Big A's Bayshore and an ungraded event at Churchill after that. He has been off since May but has been pointed to this race since then. Javier Castellano rides for Ian Wilkes.

Custom For Carlos
He won the Jersey Shore at Monmouth by 6 lengths in his last and ran 3rd in the Swale at Gulfstream in his only other stakes race. He seems to have plenty of talent and reunites with Julian Leparoux who rides for Eddy Kenneally.

Rachel Alexandra Dominates Haskell Field

Monmouth Park - Oceanport, NJ

Rachel Alexandra stayed just off the pace set by Munnings and surprisingly the Belmont winner Summer Bird until the head of the stretch. When it came time for those three horses to decide the race, all of a sudden Rachel was instantly 4 lengths ahead. Calvin Borel tapped her with the whip to keep her focused and she simply ran away to an easy 6 length win over Summer Bird with Munnings finishing third.

With the easy manner in which she won this race against the best 3 year old colts in training, Rachel etched in stone the notion that she is a filly for the ages. As such, her name belongs with those of Ruffian and Go For Wand when the conversation turns to the greatest fillies of all time.

Owner Jess Jackson will simply say she will tell us what's next when asked where Rachel will race next. That however, doesn't stop the speculation that she may well race in the Travers at Saratoga and generate a rematch between the winners of all three classic races for three year olds this year.

Another possibility posed by the racing media is that Rachel may be entered in the Woodward to take on older horses in that race. The connections of the 11 for 11 Zenyatta talk about these two super horses meeting this year. Racing Rachel in the Woodward could possibly be a way for that to happen if Zenyatta were to make only her second appearance outside California and come to Saratoga for the Woodward.

Rachel faces Summer Bird and Munnings in the Haskell

Monmouth Park

Rachel Alexandra has been installed the 4/5 favorite as she again takes on the colts in the $1.25 Million Grade I Haskell Invitational today at Monmouth Park. A series of Graded and Non graded stakes highlight a very strong undercard at Monmouth today where severe thunderstorms are expected this afternoon.

Horses to Watch in the Haskell

Rachel Alexandra
Winner of seven straight including the Preakness and is the likely leading candidate for Horse of the Year. Will have to stay close enough to Munnings on the pace today but if she is ready, she wins. Calvin Borel rides for Steve Asmussen.

Summer Bird
Ran up the track in the Kentucky Derby but returned to win the Belmont in June. The speed on the front end sets up nicely for him in here but he may be ready for a bounce after a huge lifetime best Beyer in the Belmont. Kent Desormeaux rides for Tim Ice.

Going for third win in a row and has posted three straight 108 Beyers. He is likely to press the pace today or have the lead but will have Rachel to contend with up there. Johnny Velasquez rides for Todd Pletcher.

Duke of Mischief
Is going for third straight win and won the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows by five lengths in his last. Then again, this isn't the Iowa Derby. Eiabar Coa saw enough in that race to come from Saratoga today to ride for David Fawkes.

Fourstardave, Go For Wand On Tap at Saratoga

Saratoga Race Course

The rain is expected to return today to Saratoga Springs making handicapping a challenge on the already wet ground at the Spa. The $150,000 Grade II Fourstardave for three year olds and up over the Mellon turf course and the $300,000 Grade I Go For Wand for fillies and mares three years old and up over the main track are the co-features on today's ten race card.

Horses To Watch in the Fourstardave

Kip Deville
Won the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February before throwing in a clunker in the Dubai Duty Free. Faded to 4th in the Poker at Belmont in his first race back from Dubai in June. Should be sitting just behind the pace today and the guess is this champion will be ready to roll today. Cornelio Velasquez rides for Richard Dutrow.

Cowboy Cal
Won the Strub at Santa Anita in February before running into Einstein and Geo Ponti in last three. He gave Einstein all he could handle losing by a head in the Churchill Turf Classic two back on a course rated as good. Ramon Dominguez subs for Johnny V in the saddle for Todd Pletcher.

Trying for his fifth win in a row but this is his stakes debut. He has been in top allowance company in his last three but hasn't seen the likes of the top two in this race. Alan Garcia aboard for Kiaran McLaughlin.

Won Belmont's Fort Marcy in May over a course rated as good and finished 5th after a bad break in the Manhattan in June. Ran third in the Arlington Handicap in last but returns to a more favorable distance for him today. The dangerous on turf Julien Leparoux takes the mount for Phil Serpe.

Horses to Watch in the Go For Wand

Godolphin Entry - Seventh Street and Cocoa Beach
Seventh Street has been sharp this year winning the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn in the spring and finishing second to Seattle Smooth in the Grade I Phipps at Belmont in June. Rajiv Maragh rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Cocoa Beach is in only her second start of the year but beat Ginger Punch in the Beldame and gave Zenyatta all she could handle in the BC Ladies Classic last fall. Looks like she needed the race in a dull effort in Belmont's Floral Park this spring. Certainly the one to beat. Ramon Dominguez rides for Saeed bin Suroor.

Miss Isella
Going for her third win in a row after two straight 100+ Beyers in a pair of Churchill grade II's over off tracks. She is 2 for 3 at the distance but hasn't seen the likes of Cocoa Beach. Julien Leparoux subs for Calvin Borel in the saddle for Ian Wilkes.

Well Armed Returns in San Diego Handicap

Del Mar, CA

Well Armed, the winner of the $6 Million Dubai World Cup in March, will be making his first start since winning the world's richest race today in the $250,000 Grade II San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. A field of nine is expected to contest the San Diego over the Del Mar Polytrack.

Horses to Watch in the San Diego

Well Armed
Mast Track

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Diana, Jim Dandy Highlight Saturday at the Spa

Saratoga Race Course

The main track and both turf courses are rated as Good with Race 2 off the turf for Saturday's races at Saratoga after the monsoon that washed all races off the turf yesterday, including the Grade II Lake George. After the resulting scratches in the race, Be Fair outdualed Molly's Follies in a thrilling finish in the 4 horse field in the Lake George.

Today at the Spa sees a dual feature in the $500,000 Grade I Diana for fillies & Mares four years old and up on the Mellon turf course and the $500,000 Grade II Jim Dandy for three year olds on the main track , both at a mile and an eighth. The Jim Dandy is the local prep race for the Travers.

Horses to Watchfor the Diana

Forever Together

Horses to Watch for the Jim Dandy

Charitable Man
Saratoga Sinner
Warrier's Reward