As we roll through our holiday weekend, we will be looking at six more races across the nation on Saturday.
The highlighted race will be the $400,000 Long Island Stakes at Aqueduct in New York, a marathon turf event for three year olds and up fillies and mares.
While at Aqueduct, we will also be breaking down the Discovery, a nine furlong contest for three years old, and the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship, a six furlong dash for three year olds and up on the “weeds”.
Heading west, we will make a stop at Churchill Downs for a pair of two year old races in the Golden Rod Stakes for fillies and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes for colts and geldings. Both races carry Grade: 3 status, are run for $200,000 and at a distance of 8 ½ furlongs.
Lastly, we head to California for a look at the Seabiscuit Handicap, a mile and a sixteenth, Grade: 2 test on the turf for three year olds and up.
Saturday, November 24, 2018
Race: 6 (2:20 PM EST Post)
After valiantly…and I mean valiantly… chasing Justify home in the Belmont Stakes, Gronkowski seems to have gone off form. He disappointed big time in the Travers (8th at 7/2) then, although he did make up ground late, he checked in sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last time out. He’ll be the recipient of one of most favorite angles; dropping in class and cutting back in distance and I’m thinking his “B” race will still be good enough here. "He's been training well," trainer Chad Brown said. "I'm hoping the cut back in distance will be OK. He's been training pretty sharp, and it seems like the right thing to do with him right now. Hopefully, he'll get a good forward position and go on from there”. On a side note, if they beat him here my vote would be to shut him down for the winter, give him a little R&R and bring him back in the spring………………………Play “Pin the tail on the Donkey” with the rest of this field as they are difficult to separate. I’ll go with Plainsman who is peaking in form right now after winning his last two but will be taking a sizable step up in class……………….Ditto for Roaming Union as he too won his last two and steps up.
Race: 7 (2:50 PM EST Post)
Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship
Although he rallied nicely, passing eight horses in the final 2 or 2 ½ furlongs in the BC Turf Sprint, Disco Partner was simply too far back early on to make a huge impact in that race. This almost white, now six year old gelding obviously takes an enormous drop in class and stretches out to his best distance (6 for 9 at 6 furlongs) here……………….White Flag will also be dropping in class after chasing some fleet ones out in California last time out. Good looking, well bred colt also likes this distance and has hit the board in 9 of 11 tries on the turf in his career……………………….After breaking poorly in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Hembree showed “nada” in that race after winning three of his previous four races. Colt by Proud Citizen drops to a more reasonable spot here and, for those of you who read me normally, no I’m not picking him to run well because Denise (my editor) and I use to own a portion of him……………………..Honorable Mentions: Blind Ambition finished within shouting distance of Disco Partner and White Flag his last two times out. More of the same would obviously be no surprise here…………………….Fielder has yet to be off the board in four tries on the turf in the mid-Atlantic region. Steps up but has been on the board in 12 of 16 overall career tries.
Race: 9 (3:50 PM EST Post)
Long Island Stakes
After winning her first two starts since coming over from France, Lady Montdore was probably slightly overmatched when chasing upper echelon older turf female Fourstar Crook in the Grade:1 Flower Bowl last time out while finishing third. Filly by Medaglia d’Oro drops back to a much more reasonable spot here and can handle what might be an off turf course…………………………..Golden Attitude won her first race off a 15 ½ month layoff at Delaware in September then just missed in the Zagora at Belmont in her last. Distance will be no problem nor will a likely off turf course and you get the third start off the layoff angle…………………….Pollara is another French invader who ran very well (close up sixth) in the Grade: 1 E.P. Taylor in her North American debut after winning two of her first three (with a second) in her home country. Filly by Camelot also drops to a more realistic spot in this race…………………………Honorable Mentions: Lady Paname is still another filly who ships over from France with a very good career record (7-2-1-2). This good looking gray came back running off a 54 week layoff for trainer Chad Brown when beating an allowance field. We have already established the fact that Brown is deadly with these fillies he brings over from other parts of the world…………………..Tricky Escape had a three race win streak snapped in the Grade: 1 Flower Bowl. Albeit, it appears she seems to be showing signs of cycling out of form, this filly should still come out running and could be prominent throughout.
Race: 9 (4:57 PM EST Post)
Golden Rod Stakes
Restless Rider absolutely towers over this field in just about every conceivable category including money won, speed figures, race record and class. She valiantly chased home Jaywalk in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Filly race in her last just three weeks ago. Already a Grade: 1 winner, (while the rest of this field probably don’t even know what a Grade: 1 is), this gray daughter of Distorted Humor is an easy choice here. Down the road in this spot and the only question left is, do you want to take what promises to be minuscule odds on her?……………………..Break Curfew couldn’t not have looked any more impressive when wiring maidens in her racing debut. Good looking daughter of Into Mischief broke running, withstood pace pressure and pulled away down the lane while in nothing more than an in hand gallop all while registering the highest BRISNET speed figure in the field. She shows two strong subsequent works since as well. Albeit, she will be takes a major class hike and stretching out 2 ½ furlongs, her initial start was too good to ignore…………………………….Reflect made a strong middle move in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly race but spit out the bit and quit running at that point, eventually being eased and was beaten by 44 lengths. Not sure what happened that day, but she finished just 2 ½ lengths behind the top choice two starts back at Keeneland in the Alcibiades. Threat if she runs back to that race………………………………..Honorable Mentions: When I analyzed the replay of her last race, I liked what I saw when Champagne Anyone missed the break, then had to alter course down the lane yet still got up to beat high level optionals by a nose. Stretch runner by Street Sense’s other two career races were also very good and more importantly, she seems to be getting better as the distances get longer. Steps up but could run well in this spot also…………………………..Liora has improved through all three careers races, culminating with breaking her maiden by a colossal margin on this oval last time out. Nice work last week (5F-1:00.4) is an attention getter also…………………….Princess Causeway has won her last two vs. lesser, steps up, but might have a punchers chance here. That said, I’m not sure she likes the quirky Churchill Downs surface and her closing quarter mile (:25.4) in her last left much to be desired.
Race: 11 (5:56 PM EST Post)
Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Like just about everyone else, I thought Knicks Go’s wire to wire win, at 70-1 in the Grade:1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct 6, was a total fluke as he got an uncontested lead, over a speed favoring track in a strangely run race. But when he came back and took command of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile leaving the half mile pole and made probable two year old champion Game Winner have to work hard to get past him at 40-1…well…it’s time start thinking he just might be for real. I’m not completely sold on him yet, but if he replicates either of those two races here, he wins. A pair of strong works since the Breeder’s Cup is an obvious positive sign. Lastly, I’m not too concerned about the extreme outside post. He has shown enough early speed where he can/should come out running and establish a good spot early on…..Find out more about this gray son of Paynter in this race……………………….Conversely, I wasn’t as surprise as everyone else when Signalman ran third behind Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup (at 67-1) as I had him as an “honorable mention” that day. Nice looking colt by General Quarters also finished second behind Knicks Go in the aforementioned Breeders Futurity two starts back. So, if you like Knicks Go, and this cat chased and finished fairly close behind him twice, then logically you have to like him too. Of course he doesn’t have the greatest post in the world either………………………….I hate to put Dunph this far down as from what we’ve seen so far, he could be any kind. This dark bay gelding won at first asking by a wide margin (8 ½ lengths), was purchased privately and handed over to trainer Mike Maker, and then won a Restricted Stakes race by almost 8 lengths on this very oval. So, basically he is 2 for 2 with a combined winning margin of over 15 lengths and he likes this surface……scary…………….Honorable Mentions: Roiland is a neck shy of coming into this unbeaten in three career tries. This stretch runner, from the right now unconscious (12-34= 35%) Tom Amoss barn, has improved dramatically through all three starts as well…..could be coming late once again here……………………….I thought Mick’s Star ran well when being beaten by just 2 ½ lengths in a Graded Stakes turf experiment last time out. But now he returns to the dirt where his first two races were first rate, large margined wins……………….A few other side notes in this race: Limonite is about a half length away from being three for three coming into this and was beaten by just a neck to Roiland last time out………..After a bad start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Current didn’t run all that bad. The $725,000 son of Curlin tries the dirt for the first time here with but with only so-so works………………………..Blue Steel improved 14 ½ lengths from start one to start two and shows a monster work (4F- :46.2) two weeks ago. Steps up and stretches out here, however.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Race: 7 (6:30 PM EST Post)
Synchrony may not have cared for the good turf course, or the Grade: 1 competition, in his last at Keeneland. If you draw a line through that race for this well traveled son of super sire Tapit, you’ll see a turf record of 9-5-2-2, including being four for six this year and two for two at this distance. No worries that this will be his first race in 49 days as he has a habit of running well fresh and he shows a blistering work on Nov. 10 (5F- :58.2)…….looks best…………………Ohio should be nominated for “Claim of the Year” as he was taken out of a one mile, $32,000 claimer in August, where he came from 14 lengths back to win and stopped the clock in an impressive 1:33.3, before being beaten by just 2 ½ lengths (third) in a Grade: 2 last time out in a mile run in a supersonic 1:32.2. This veteran is clearly in peak form right now and a 25% Drayden Van Dyke gets the leg up…..looms a threat for sure………………….Big Score is just 3 for 15 in his career and 0 for 3 this year but he is showing me signs of sitting on a big race. He has improved through each of his last three races, including finishing in front of the top pick last time out, and his Nov. 17 work (4F- :48.1 from the gate) was excellent…………….…….Honorable Mentions: Ditto for Kenjisstorm who is just 1 for 6 this year and 1 for 7 on the Del Mar turf course in his career. But his past performances suggest he might be sitting on a big one as well……………………….Pincheck gets the proverbial “dark horse” tag in this race as, with no published works and this being his U.S. debut, I have no clue as to how he will run. All I know is he’s run very well in Ireland throughout his career and more importantly, Mike Smith sees fit to take the mount.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2018- Record: 99-233= 42%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Juddmonte Farms announced Monday that Enable, the back to back winner of the Arc de Triomphe and the winner of the 2018 Breeders' Cup Turf, will stay in training for another racing campaign next year.
A tweet from Juddmonte stated the main goal for soon to be 5 year old mare, who is 10 for 11 in her career, will be an attempt at an unprecedented third straight Arc win.
**** 2017 Preakness winner Cloud Computing has been retired from racing and will enter stud in 2019 for a fee of $8,500 at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, KY.
“Cloud Computing is one of those horses that sells himself immediately when you see him. He's a classic winner, but he's also the picture of what a classic horse is supposed to look like,” said Ned Toffey, Spendthrift general manager.
“For him to go on and win the Preakness over Classic Empire less than 100 days after making his debut, that's pretty special and it speaks to his quality. He's also out of a Graded Stakes running A.P. Indy mare, and the second dam won the Apple Blossom. There's a lot to like about Cloud Computing, and we believe breeders are going to love what they see.”
**** After an MRI on Monday, and his doctor telling him “You're done,” jockey Gary Stevens is retiring….. For good this time.
Stevens injured his C4 vertebra (pressing up against his spinal cord), following a post parade incident at Del Mar on Saturday.
“There won't be any comebacks from this one,” Stevens said.
“I was getting close anyway,” Stevens added. “Now it will be time to pursue other things, but thank God I'm not in a wheelchair.”
Stevens, who turned 55 this year, won his first race in 1980 at Les Bois Park in Idaho before winning three Kentucky Derby (1988 Winning Colors, 1995 Thunder Gulch, and 1997 on Silver Charm).
He was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame also in 1997.
Stevens stepped away from the sport in 2005 due to knee problems but two months shy of his 50th birthday in 2013, he announced he was making a comeback.
All told, Stevens won three Preakness’, three Belmont Stakes and 11 Breeders' Cup victories in 29,442 starts, 5,187 wins with career earnings of over $258 million.
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