JC / Railbird

Races/Results Archive

Tuesday Links

– Summer countdown: 35 days to Del Mar, 42 to Saratoga.
– Curlin breezed an easy half mile in :49 flat at Churchill on Monday, in his final prep for the upcoming Stephen Foster. After grousing over the 128 impost and making vague threats about withdrawing the reigning Horse of the Year from the race, trainer Steve Asmussen confirmed yesterday afternoon that Curlin would start on Saturday: “Not running would be an injustice to him” (Courier-Journal).
– So true: “No matter how dominating a horse may look in a key prep race, or in a previous Triple Crown race, the ultra competitive spring classics provide no tolerance for any interruption of training” (DRF+).
– Trainer Rick Dutrow feels like a loser, scapegoats his jockey. (More discussion of Kent Desormeaux’s Belmont ride and the developing conflict among the connections here, here, here, and here.) Meanwhile, IEAH president Michael Iavarone is talking about the Haskell as a possible next start for Big Brown: “I know we’d get favorable conditions on a track that is more to our liking” (NYT).
– Zaftig, who won the Acorn most impressively under a handride after John Velazquez lost his whip mid-stretch, will point to the Mother Goose, where she could meet up with Oaks victress Proud Spell and up-and-comer Music Note.

Saturday Morning Notes

– In today at Gulfstream: Cool Coal Man, scratched from the Pasco Stakes at Tampa last week and from the Hutcheson before that, is entered in the sixth, an allowance race with a small but intriguing field that includes Wonder Mon (stirring the Derby dreams of owner-trainer Gary Capuano) and Ready Set, making his second start off a brief layoff for trainer Michael Matz. A couple of races later, Phantom Income makes her first start since a disastrous Breeders’ Cup appearance in the Sunshine Million Oaks. The Montbrook filly, out of a dam that’s half to Ghostzapper, reminds me of Corinthian — she’s a talented headcase who could be, if she ever gets her act together, a significant player in her division.
– Santa Anita’s Cushion Track problems are disrupting more than racing, reports Steve Andersen in the DRF. Horses, including some promising potential Derby and Oaks starters, are losing training time due to the recent closure of the synthetic surface after rain.

Fast Times at Santa Anita

– How impressive was Indian Blessing winning the Santa Ynez? Pressured early and late, the likely champion juvenile filly ran the first quarter in a speedy :22.27 and the next in an even faster :21.49 before slowing to :23.38 in the third. Final time for the seven furlong race was a track record 1:19.89. Golden Doc A closed fast for second.
– Indian Blessing wasn’t the only horse posting freakish fractions at Santa Anita over the weekend. Post-deluge, the rocky-but-dry Cushion Track played absurdly fast: On Saturday, El Gato Malo took advantage of a pace duel that developed between Massive Drama and Talk of a Cat, who ran the first quarter in :22.25 and the second in :22.09, to win the one mile San Rafael in record time of 1:33.37, while ex-claimer Zappa set a new mark of 1:39.58 for 1 1/16 miles later in the afternoon winning the San Pasqual Handicap. Given the wacky surface, perhaps all the new records should be marked with an asterisk …
– The 2-3-4 finishers from the Demoiselle Stakes hardly flattered winner Mushka with their performances this weekend. Elusive Lady finished last at 6-1 while Melissa Jo ran a flat second to Game Face in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday. In the Busanda Stakes at Aqueduct today, favored Sunday Elegance set the early pace then faded to finish fifth, nearly seven lengths behind winner Paint Me Red. Key race alert: Game Face was the impressive winner of the 4th at Aqueduct on November 23, a maiden special that has now produced three next out winners.
– The great Maryland racemare Silmaril ended her career in style on Saturday: “She isn’t even blowing. She’s a damn racehorse” (WashPost).

Tagg Sweeps Stakes

– There were only two graded stakes across the country on Saturday, but trainer Barclay Tagg took both, winning the Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct with Dave and the Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill with Bit of Whimsy. Dave, making his first graded stakes appearance in 34 starts, was an upset victor at 14-1. Bit of Whimsy, coming off a win at Keeneland last month, was the 8-5 favorite. “She’s had a terrific year,” said Tagg of ‘Whimsy, in his usual understated way (ESPN). The 3-year-old filly is 4-for-7 since making her career debut on April 1. In the past seven months, she’s finished in a dead heat with Rutherienne in the G3 Sands Point, run second to the ill-fated Alexander Tango in the G1 Garden City, and won the G1 QEII Cup last month. She’s now the best 3-year-old turf filly in training, and fortunately, it looks like we’ll see more of her. Tagg is sending Bit of Whimsy to Gulfstream this winter to prep for a 2008 campaign.
– Jockey Garrett Gomez tied Jerry Bailey’s record for most stakes wins in a year on Saturday, scoring his 70th with Hucking Hot in the Skirball-Kenis Stakes at Hollywood. As impressive as Dave looked kicking clear in the Red Smith or Bit of Whimsy did digging in to hold off Ciao in the Mrs. Revere, neither looked as good as Hucking Hot sitting patiently behind a wall of traffic, then splitting horses in the stretch to get the win. “There was a tiny hole at the top of the stretch and when I pointed her for it, she accelerated like it was the size of the Grand Canyon,” said Gomez of the filly’s bold move (LA Times).

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