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Sep 04, 2009

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


            On Saturday August 29th Saratoga hosted three Grade I races including the highlight of their meeting, the Mid Summer Derby, the Travers. Two other races, the Grade I Ballerina for fillies and mares run at seven furlongs and the Grade I King’s Bishop for three year olds also run at seven furlongs.

            After the first week up at Saratoga back in late July the weather has been great. However, on Travers day the skies opened up and the rain came causing the track to be a sloppy mess.

            In the Grade I Ballerina, a field of five went into the gate with INDIAN BLESSING and INFORMED DECISION going off at the same price 1.35-1. INDIAN BLESSING was the slight favorite with a bit more money on her, however, she couldn’t deliver taking pressure early on from both sides but was no match for the winner, MUSIC NOTE. MUSIC NOTE who is owned by Godolphin Stable was turning back in distance and had to break from the rail, however, her jockey Rajiv Maragh had her up close early pressing the favorite and she took over into the lane and never looked back scoring by more than five lengths. The ability she showed this year combined with that huge effort last out gives her connections many options leading into the Breeders’ Cup this year. She finished third over the pro-ride last year at Santa Anita in the Ladies Classic behind ZENYATTA.

            In the Grade I King’s Bishop Godolphin’s luck lasted but just for a few moments because they crossed the wire first but were D’Q after the race and placed second. VINEYARD HAVEN who was on fire at the end of last year before being sold to Godolphin had only one start in Dubai, a well beaten fourth. He returned running however in the King’s Bishop despite taking pressure the whole way. When the gate opened he broke on top but then was pressured oddly enough by his entry-mate through a half mile in 44:3, put that rival away and was clear into the stretch before CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN closed well through the lane coming alongside VINEYARD HAVEN late. Just as they approached the wire VINEYARD HAVEN drifted out into CAPT. CANDYMAN CAN thus the reason for disqualification. Both horses ran very well but with that effort, VINEYARD HAVEN may be back.

            Finally the big race was here, a field of seven went postward. QUALITY ROAD, who was coming off a record performance in the Amsterdam earlier in the meeting was sent off as the 3-2 favorite. SUMMER BIRD, the winner of the Belmont and second to the great Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell was second choice with KENSEI, Jim Dandy hero third choice. When the gate broke longshot OUR EDGE was sent to the lead with KENSEI stalking that rival with QUALITY ROAD in a tough spot in behind horses, SUMMER BIRD was right there on the outside in fourth. As OUR EDGE stopped, KENSEI took over briefly before SUMMER BIRD rolled on by while QUALITY ROAD was stuck in behind. SUMMER BIRD drew off nicely with QUALITY ROAD not firing and checking in third after a rough trip; HOLD ME BACK the longest shot in the race closed well for second over the sloppy track.

            It looks like SUMMER BIRD’S next start will come in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in October and QUALITY ROAD probably pointing to the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in November. QUALITY ROAD doesn’t want to race over the pro-ride either so 2 out of the top 3 three year olds will be skipping the event as RACHEL ALEXANDRA has already stated she is not running.

            The crowd was down from last year as was the on-track handle but that could be expected with the weather. Despite the poor conditions, everyone was treated to a very nice horse race.



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