Aug 03, 2003
By: Joe Girardi
The first week at Saratoga and Del Mar both ended on Monday July 28th with rousing success. The crowds as usual flock to these racetrack hideaways and so do the horses. On day one at Saratoga, July 23rd, the track was sloppy and it was still raining. There would be no turf racing today and the feature race was the Grade II Schuylerville for two year old fillies going six furlongs.
With speed holding up most of the day we saw the triumphant return of EVENING ATTIRE. One of last year’s top handicap horses, this Pat Kelly trainee won an off the turf event by more than six lengths and stamped himself back on the handicap scene. The stakes race went to who else, Todd Pletcher and his talented barn of two year olds. ASHADO, Pletcher’s second entrant in the race, stalked the pace while racing wide and took over to score easily by three lengths. MAPLE SYRPLE, an Canadian invader was second and Pletcher’s other starter, HERMIONE’S MAGIC was third.
Day two July 24th, the track was sloppy again and no turf racing but we saw a star in the making. Todd Pletcher’s two year old colt CHAPEL ROYAL won the Sanford Stakes in impressive fashion and stamped himself as the best two year old colt on the East Coast.
Day three July 25th, the weather was clear, the track was fast and the stakes race stayed on the turf, the Bernard Baruch handicap, a Grade II at 1 and 1/8th miles for three years old and upward. The favorite was last year’s winner, DEL MAR SHOW, however, he could not go back to back as he faltered in the stretch. TRADEMARK, a South African import scored the easiest of victories for hot training Kiaran McLaughlin.
Day four, July 26th, the weather was cloudy and hot, but the track was fast. The Grade I Diana Handicap for fillies and mares on the turf was held and it had a field of eight. The favorite was the Frankel entry of HEAT HAZE and PERTUISANE. The winner was VOODOO DANCER, who lost this race last year by a nose but was able to win the photo this year. She was the second choice at 5-2 and returned $7.20.
We may have seen another star in the making in the third race when VALUE PLUS, a colt by UNBRIDLED’S SONG scored wire to wire by 8 and ¾ lengths. This colt was never asked to run and could be the best one that Pletcher has in his barn. Only time will tell.
Day five, July 27th, it was a little showery but the track was fast and the turf was firm. The feature race was the Grade I Go For Wand stakes and we saw another superstar in the making. Bobby Frankel trainee SIGHTSEEK, easily dispatched of five foes and scored the easiest of victories, by over 11 and ½ lengths. If anyone can challenge Horse of the Year AZERI for top filly or mare in the country it is SIGHTSEEK.
Day six, July 28th, the final day of the first week, saw the weather clear, fast and firm for the main track and the turf courses. The Grade III Lake George for three year old fillies went to FILM MAKER. This filly paid 9-1 and defeated the favorite from the Todd Pletcher barn by more than 2 lengths.
Well in less than seven days we saw some very highly regarded two year olds, possibly the best filly or mare in the country and top notch turf runners.
Well on to Del Mar for their opening week.
Day one, July 23rd, the weather clear and it was fast and firm. The opening day stakes was a spilt division of the Oceanside Stakes. The Oceanside was for three year olds on the turf going one mile. The first division went to SWEET RETURN and the second division went to DEVIOUS BOY.
Day two, July 24th, the weather was clear and it was fast and firm. There was no stakes race on day two.
Day three, July 25th, the weather was cloudy and it was fast and firm. The stakes race was the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Stakes for state breds. The race went to DIRTY DIANA, who scored by 8 and ½ lengths in a solid time of 1:03:1.
Day four, July 26th, the weather was mostly clear and the main track fast and turf was firm. There were two stakes races, the Grade II Bing Crosby, a six furlongs event. The race went to BEAU’S TOWN, from the trainer Cole Norman’s barn. KONA GOLD, who finished fifth in the race was retired after the race. The 9YO just doesn’t have it anymore.
The second stakes race was the Grade I John C. Mabee handicap on the turf for three year old and upward fillies and mares. The winner of the race was MEGAHERTZ, who is trained by Bobby Frankel. He defeated another Frankel trainee in TATES CREEK who dead heated DUBLINO and GOLDEN APPLES.
Day five, July 27th, the weather was clear and it was fast and firm. They held two more stakes races, the Fleet Treat stakes and the Grade I Eddie Read handicap. The Fleet Treat went to longshot TUCKED AWAY, ridden by Gary Stevens. The Eddie Read went to SPECIAL RING, who took the field wire to wire in track record time of 1:45:4 for 1 and 1/8th miles.
Day six, July 28th, the weather was cloudy, but it was again fast and firm. The final day of the first week didn’t have a stakes race.
Within one week between both racetracks we have seen top quality racing on both coasts with a promise of much more to come.
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