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Sep 08, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


The final weekend of the Saratoga meeting came to a close on Monday September 4th but the weekend was not short of quality with four Grade I races in the final three days. On Saturday September 2nd Saratoga hosted two Grade I races, the Grade I Forego at seven furlongs for three year olds and up and the Grade I Woodward also for three year olds and up at 1 1/8th miles. On Sunday they hosted the Grade I Spinaway for two year old fillies going seven furlongs and Monday they hosted the Grade I Hopeful for two year olds going seven furlongs.

In the Grade I Forego there was a large field of 11 horses with COMMENTATOR going off at odds-on. Last year’s Whitney winner didn’t break that well but wasn’t quick enough to make the lead and his chances were greatly compromised. Longshot SPANISH CHESTNUT make the lead for about a ¼ mile before POMEROY took over and never looked back. WAR FRONT made a solid move while wide to get into second and held well to the wire with FRIENDLY ISLAND closing for third. COMMENTATOR who never got involved tired to finish 10th. POMEROY off that big win will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and may just train up to the race.

The Grade I Woodward, normally run the first weekend of the Belmont Fall meeting was moved to the final weekend at Saratoga to hopefully get a bigger field with more time between the big races and it did just that as 10 horses went postward. The slight favorite in the race was SUN KING coming off a nose loss to INVASOR in the Whitney and the close second choice was FLOWER ALLEY, a disappointing seventh in the Whitney followed it up with another disappointing performance checking in seventh again. However this was his third start back off an October layoff when he was second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. After these two races he would really have to show something before the Breeders’ Cup to be considered a contender. The winner of the race was PREMIUM TAP who finished fifth in the Whitney, went to the lead battled the whole way with another longshot SECOND OF JUNE and continued that way to the wire. SUN KING finished third more than a length behind the winner but did not have much closing kick. The well bred winner will be pointed to some races at the Fall meeting or elsewhere as he is not Breeders’ Cup Eligible.

On Sunday in the Grade I Spinaway we saw some quick footed fillies and the one who made the lead never looked back. APPEALING ZOPHIE broke on the lead, set solid splits, and then scored going away by more than five lengths in a solid time of 1:23:3 for the seven furlongs. The favorite in the race COTTON BLOSSOM managed to get up for second at the wire with second choice X STAR checking in third. Off that effort APPEALING ZOPHIE looks like she will stretchout.

On closing day in the Hopeful Stakes the two year old colts were on display. There was a five horse field with only four betting interests but we saw some quality two year olds. The Todd Pletcher entry of SCAT DADDY and CIRCULAR QUAY were sent off at 4-5 with UNBRIDLED EXPRESS the second choice at 5-2. Third choice PEGASUS WIND was sent for the lead but was challenged hard by the longest shot in the race IRISH ACE and then UNBRIDLED EXPRESS along with SCAT DADDY came to challenge the leaders with a long distance back to CIRCULAR QUAY. However in midstretch with SCAT DADDY and UNBRIDLED EXPRESS challenging for the lead CIRCULAR QUAY was storming down the center of the track to score going away. SCAT DADDY held well for second and UNBRIDLED EXPRESS finished third. It will be interesting to see how these horses stretchout in distance but the talent is there.

Belmont Park opens its doors for the Fall Meeting on Friday September 8th. This Fall meeting will be very instrumental regarding the year end championships and those who are going to be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup. There will be 12 Grade I races run at this meeting and the Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 7th will be the highlight of the meeting. For more information on the Fall Meeting please visit www.nyra.com.

 



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