Boisterous was the man of the day as he took the Man o' War for his first career Grade 1 victory (Photos courtesy Eclipse Sportswire).
While not as busy as last week, this week proved to be nearly as exciting on the stakes front. Closing weekends at Betfair Hollywood Park and Belmont Park brought us a couple of exciting graded events with tracks around the country joining in on the fun.
In the only Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event of the weekend, Book Review took home her trophy of the year and a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint with a victory in the A Gleam Handicap. Although it was a smaller field, there were some good horses taking on Book Review, including Byrama, who won a Grade 1 last month.
Teddy’s Promise and Winding Way dueled in front for most of the race, at one point three lengths in front of the rest of the field but it was Book Review’s day as she drew clear in the stretch to win by 2 ½ lengths with Teddy’s Promise and Byrama in second and third, respectively. Book Review went off as the 3.10-to-1 third choice in the field of five.
Book Review seems to love seven furlongs as five of her six wins have come at the distance so that could set up well for her in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. In her two attempts at Santa Anita (host of this year’s Breeders’ Cup) this year, she has finished second but both of those run were over 1 1/16 miles while her win in the La Brea last December at seven furlongs was also at the track. She only won by a neck but beat some good fillies that day in graded stakes winner Reneesgotzip and champion My Miss Aurelia.
It’s also relevant to note that Book Review had a five month freshening between her last race and the A Gleam. Trainer Bob Baffert seems to think that was one of the reasons she did so well.
“Book Review is all race horse. She loves 7/8. Freshening really helped her today,” he tweeted Saturday night.
It is his third race with the filly as she was formerly with Chad Brown on the east coast.
TIME AWAY FROM THE TRACK HELPED BOOK REVIEW AS SHE WON A GRADED STAKES ON HER RETURN
The turf ranks were hit hard when Shug McGaughey’s Point of Entry was injured while winning a race in early June but McGaughey returned to this weekend’s Man o’ War with another turf bullet in Boisterous. With the same connections as Point of Entry, Boisterous has been somewhat overlooked as a top turf horse but the Man o’ War should change that.
Boisterous sat in fifth for literally every call except the start and finish of the race and took the lead at the 1/8 pole to finish 2 ¼ lengths in front of Twilight Eclipse with Exclusive Strike in third. The Man o’ War was Boisterous’ first Grade 1 victory and it was a well deserved win for the 6-year-old. With four wins and two seconds in six starts since his bizarre ninth in last year’s Arlington Million Stakes, he definitely looks like he is finally turning into the real deal.
“I’m going to smile on this one, because this horse deserves to win a Grade 1. He had been training so good. His three races this year have all been really good. We kind of caught a turf today we liked. I was looking for a little bit of rain. I’m tickled to death, not for me, but for the horse,” McGaughey said.
“We’ll think about the Sword Dancer. We’ll think about the Arlington Million. We’ll think about the Pacific Classic. When we get up [to Saratoga], we’ll see how he’s doing. The Arlington Million I’m a little bit gun shy on because I don’t really understand why he ran bad there last year. Somebody said, ‘He didn’t run all that bad. He was ninth, beaten [5 ¾ lengths],’ but he ran bad.”
Juddmonte Farm’s homebred Emollient traveled to California on Saturday for her first try on turf in the American Oaks and proved it was a smart move on trainer Bill Mott’s part. The Empire Maker filly won the Central Bank Ashland Stakes on Keeneland’s All Weather surface by nine lengths this spring before putting in a disappointing sixth place finish as the favorite in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in May.
Even though at first glance she’s not particularly bred for turf, she’s by a Belmont Stakes winner and out of a Belmont winner’s daughter, her female family screams grass with horses like Machiavellian and Exit to Nowhere in her family. Her success at Keeneland probably also allowed Mott to think about trying the surface as horses that have success on the All-Weather usually seem to do pretty well on the grass.
Emollient was second behind Sarach from the third call on and had to fight a bit when she took the lead in mid-stretch but beat turf stakes winner Emotional Kitten by ½ length in a time of 2:02.38. The betting public obviously knew that she had a big shot to win, as they sent her off as the race favorite at odds of 1.20-to-1.
EMOLLIENT AND MIKE SMITH AFTER THEIR VICTORY
Dancing Afleet won her third in a row at Delaware Park on Saturday when she took the Delaware Oaks by ½ length. While not as impressive as the 11 ½ combined lengths she won her last two starts by but this was definitely a better field.
Dancing Afleet looked a little uncomfortable for a few strides after they broke out of the gate but quickly settled as she joined the front pack. Jockey Joshua Navarro had the filly in perfect position throughout the race and got her up just in time over Ile St. Molly to get a ½ length win at odds of 9.90-to-1. Sagamore Farm’s Tell a Great Story finished 1 ¾ lengths behind the pair in third while favorite Maracuya seemed thrown off her game when she was checked early in the race, finishing seventh.
Team Valor just retired their Kentucky Derby winner but they ended up in the winner’s circle of another Derby on Saturday when Infinite Magic won the American Derby by a head. It seems like the added ground on the sod helped him with this one as he last finished sixth in the Hill Prince Stakes over a mile on the turf after trying to make a Triple Crown race by running in the Peter Pan, which didn’t work out so well for the colt as he finished ninth.
The American Derby is Infinite Magic’s second win in the United States since he was imported here after a February win at Lingfield and it may be his biggest win yet. The win definitely didn’t come easy and he had to work for it every step of the way, just beating Admiral Kitten, but he could be an interesting to watch develop.
The Arlington Handicap marked the return of Dullahan, who was last seen at the back of the pack in the Dubai World Cup, but Rahystrada stole the spotlight. A 9-year-old gelding by Rahy, Rahystrada was gunning for his third Arlington Handicap victory in four years and he did it in style, winning by ½ length. While Rahystrada deserves all the accolades he gets for the win, the sneaky good run by Dullahan definitely did not go unnoticed.
RAHYSTRADA MADE HISTORY WITH HIS THIRD ARLINGTON HANDICAP WIN
Dullahan has been one of those horses that you love on the synthetic surfaces but aren’t too sure about in other places. Outside of the synthetics, he seems to like Churchill, finishing fourth in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and third in the 2012 Kentucky Derby but unlike many thought, he hasn’t really taken to the turf course all that well. Dullahan could have just been feeling extra good after a 3 ½ month layoff but with the Pacific Classic, a race he won last year, coming up next month it could have been one of those sneaky prep races that some people miss.
There were no Wise Dans or Game On Dudes on the scene this week but it was an interesting day of racing. Boisterous’ performance had to be my favorite of the weekend and it livens up the turf division after the losses of Animal Kingdom and Point of Entry.
Book Review’s win in the A Gleam definitely has the biggest impact on the Breeders’ Cup and not just because she won a spot in the race. The Breeders’ Cup is in her backyard this year and she’s already proved that she likes the Santa Anita surface so depending on how she develops in the coming months, she may be one to put some money on during the first weekend of November.