JC / Railbird

Le Mi Geaux

The Place to Be

That’s Monmouth, this weekend and next. Rachel Alexandra arrived at the track on Tuesday morning for the Lady’s Secret Stakes on Saturday (she may paddock school on Friday, reports Monmouth), and the likely field for the Haskell on August 1, which already included Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky, gained Derby runner-up Ice Box. “It’s everything you hope for,” Monmouth general manager Bob Kulina told the Star-Ledger. “It’s shaping up to be the premiere 3-year-old race after the Triple Crown, after the Derby.” (And what about the Travers, the mid-summer Derby? “… we will just have to wait and see what happens in Jersey.”)

Not to slight glorious Saratoga, which opens Friday and drew 127 entries for its 10-race card. Seven are entered in the Schuylerville Stakes, including Belmont maiden winner Stopspendingmaria, one of the buzz babies I’m following here, and Rick Dutrow trainee Le Mi Geaux, one of the first winners for freshman sire First Samurai. He did quite well at Saratoga in 2005, winning an allowance and the Hopeful Stakes.

Speaking of juveniles attracting buzz, Date With Destiny, the only foal of the late champion George Washington, is pointing to the Group 1 Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile on September 25 after her impressive maiden win. The Fillies’ Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In Challenge race, but even if Date With Destiny does win, she’s a longshot for the Breeders’ Cup. Trainer Richard Hannon, addressing talk of sending his star milers to the event, said last month, “I am not interested in what they have to offer across the pond.”

Getting back to Monmouth, somehow I missed Dick Jerardi’s DRF+ column of last week. Per the Beyer speed figure makers, “Monmouth is getting faster (and better) horses at this meet than it got over the same period last year.” The only group not running to higher pars? Jersey breds.

Catching Up

Here we are, less than a month away from Del Mar and Saratoga, and interesting juveniles are starting to appear on the scene. In May, I made mention of Hornblower, the first starter for freshman sire First Samurai. He finished third in his debut at Hastings; “maybe he’ll improve next out,” I wrote. He did, winning his second start, a six-furlong maiden special, last Saturday, giving First Samurai his first winner. The sire scored his second winner on Sunday when Le Mi Geaux, making her second career start for trainer Rick Dutrow, won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special at Churchill Downs by 7 1/4 lengths. Third in her debut, Le Mi Geaux is the second starter from a May 14 Churchill maiden special won by the Ken McPeek trainee Salty Strike (likely favorite in this Saturday’s Debutante) to come back and win her next race. Blue Orleans, second that day, returned to win at the track on June 12, going wire-to-wire in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special. The filly, trained by Todd Pletcher, is by Bluegrass Cat, who has six winners already out of his first crop to race, and is a half-sibling to versatile graded stakes winner Pico Central.

Out at Belmont Park last weekend, photographer Easy Goer caught an unnamed 2-year-old working in company with stakes winner Munnings. The A.P. Indy colt with a distinctive blaze, bought by Coolmore for $1 million at the Keeneland September 2009 sale, is out of the brilliant sprinter Madcap Escapade and a half-sibling to G1 Debutante Stakes and Sorrento Stakes winner Mi Sueno. Once he has a name, he’ll be one for the watch list.