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Aug 13, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            On Saturday August 7th at Saratoga they hosted two Grade I races one that can have a big impact on the Breeders’ Cup and year end championships.

            The ninth race on the card that day was the Grade I Test Stakes for three year old fillies run over the seven furlong distance. The lukewarm favorite in the race was the rail horse PICA SLEW who came out of the gate running and set a pressured pace getting down to the half mile in 44:2 but she folded in the lane and tired to finish 8th. CHAMPAGNE D’ORO, who was pressing the pace took over that lead into the lane and drew away to score by almost five lengths. This improving three year old filly has shown she can win on the lead or pressing the pace. BONNIE BLUE FLAG closed some ground to finish second and the previously undefeated BELLE OF THE HALL closed from ninth and last to finish third.

            The following race the was Grade I Whitney Handicap for three year olds and upward run over 1 and 1/8th miles and it carried a purse of $750,000. QUALITY ROAD was the heavy favorite in the race coming off a huge win in the Metropolitan Mile where he took pressure the whole way and holding safe for the win in a solid time of 1:33 over MUSKET MAN a rival in the Whitney Stakes. The second choice in the race was BLAME, who was coming into this race with a four race win streak most recently scoring in the Grade I Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs back on June 12th. As the gates broke QUALITY ROAD found himself on the lead with mild pressure coming from MUSKET MAN while HAYNESFIELD, who was expected to show more speed sat in third. The opening quarter was slow 24:2, followed by a half in 48, with the ¾ time going in 1:11:4, very moderate fractions especially for a horse with QUALITY ROAD’s talent but as they entered the stretch QUALITY ROAD didn’t spurt away and was holding just a 1 and ½ length lead, BLAME, who was able to sit a lot closer to the slower pace was making his move with MUSKET MAN still right there in third. BLAME got up to QUALITY ROAD just as the wire came and beat him by a head with MUSKET MAN less than two lengths back in third. The time of the race was 1:48:4 which was respectable but not spectacular. Many felt that with those slow early fractions that QUALITY ROAD should have won easily but he didn’t, in my opinion he is still the best older horse in the country and will prove that out by year’s end.

            On August 6th, there was another stakes race run at Saratoga, the $70,000 Loudonville Stakes for three year old fillies run over six furlongs. There was a five horse field but that was not the story here. A horse in the race by the name of LISA’S BOOBY TRAP was the story. A three year old filly that is owned and trained by Timothy Snyder was three for three, all at Finger Lakes Racetrack heading into this race. However, that still was not the story. The story was that this horse was bought for $4,500 by Snyder, paying only $2,000 up front with the promise to pay the rest if the horse won a race. The horse was named for Snyder’s late wife, who died from cancer back in 2003. She told him before she passed that she wanted to come back as a racehorse and Snyder for that reason will not sell this horse despite some lucrative offers, he believes that something greater is at work here. After getting bet down to favoritism after three huge wins against lesser at Finger Lakes, she raced well back off some sharp fractions but came wide into the lane and drew away easily for a six length score in a solid 1:09:3 under jockey Kent Desormeaux. She is being considered for the Grade III Victory Ride Stakes at Saratoga on August 28th as she tries to run her record to five for five, we will keep you updated.

            Speaking of another undefeated horse, ZENYATTA ran her unblemished record to 18 for 18 with another win in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch handicap at Del Mar on August 7th. After sitting fifth behind very slow early fractions, she made a wide move at the top of the lane and it looked like she would go on to a big score but the pace setter, RINTERVAL battled back on the inside and made ZENYATTA work a bit to score by a neck in a slow time of 1:45 over Polytrack. She is probably going to stay in California for a prep to get her to the Breeders’ Cup and it would be great to see her run against the likes of QUALITY ROAD, BLAME, and RACHEL ALEXANDRA in what should be a great Breeders’ Cup Classic if they all show up in that race.

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