Jul 28, 2011
AMERCAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
The Saratoga meeting got underway on Friday July 22nd, 2011 despite the threat of cancelation because of the heat. Yours truly almost got canceled because of a tire blowout on the New York Thruway just before Kingston. With some help from Triple A, good directions to the tire place and quick tire change I was back on the road and headed to the “Summer” place to be. At one time it was the “August” place to be, you can go on youtube and listen to the song they played during a 1980’s commercial, back when it was 24 days of racing. It is now 40 days of racing and I don’t know yet if I think that is a good idea. Yes, more people will always go to Saratoga on a daily basis but you run the risk of diluting the best racing in the world, just some food for thought.
Now let’s get to the races. The opening day stakes was the Grade III Schuylerville Stakes for two year old fillies run over six furlongs with a purse of $100,000. Todd Pletcher looks loaded for this meeting and didn’t waste any time as his two year old filly, GEORGIE’S ANGEL got the meet going in the right direction with an impressive win as the 4-5 favorite. She stalked the leaders who went quick early on, took over from those rivals into the lane and held on for a 1 and ½ length win; TRUE FEELINGS ran on well for second. Can’t wait to see those two meet up again later in the meeting.
On the opening day undercard, the James Marvin, which was an ungraded stakes that played out like Grade II quality (look for the race to be graded next year), went to JACKSON BEND. The Nick Zito trainee had not won a race since his two year old year but he certainly returned to that form with a powerful win, scoring by more than two lengths in a very solid time of 1:20:4 for the seven furlongs. He might also return later in the meeting for the Forego but look for him to remain sprinting for now.
On day two of the meeting, the heat was actually worse because of the humidity but they still ran. The feature was the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks for three year old fillies run over 1 and 1/8th miles with a purse of $250,000. The short but quality field of five fillies went postward with PLUM PRETTY, the Kentucky Oaks heroine going off as the slight 9-5 favorite. After making the lead and setting decent splits she was confronted by IT’S TRICKY who was coming off the win in the Acorn on Belmont Stakes day over a sloppy track. Those two battled for most of the stretch with IT’S TRICKY edging away late for a ¾ of a length win. PLUM PRETTY easily held second over ROYAL DELTA who checked in third. The time of the race was a solid 1:49 flat and we might see some of these back in the Alabama on August 20th at 1 and ¼ miles.
Moving along to day 3 it featured the Grade II Sanford for two year olds run over six furlongs. Todd Pletcher’s OVERDRIVEN was sent off as the 1-5 favorite coming off an impressive win in his debut. He stalked the leader BLACK RHINO, took over from that rival and never looked back scoring by four lengths in 1:10:3. He is one to watch for possibly in the Hopeful Stakes on closing day September 5th.
Day 4 of the meeting saw its first Saratoga rain. It poured buckets from just before the first race to around the sixth race that day. All the races except the second race were taken off the turf and the main track was listed as sloppy. I guess the positive that can be taken out of that was that it cooled off big time. The Evan Shipman Stakes was run and it was featuring FRIEND OR FOE but he was scratched because of the track condition and will most likely point towards the Whitney on August 6th. STORMY’S MAJESTY looked like he was going to take it wire to wire but he got nailed on the money by ICABAD CRANE who angled out late for the win.
Moving on to Day 5 we saw some very interesting horses. In the Grade II Lake George we saw WINTER MEMORIES who ran her record to 5 for 6 with her only loss coming in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies turf to MORE THAN REAL. She was able to avenge that loss with a very impressive last to first move scoring by a more geared down 4 and ½ lengths, she is a great filly with a huge future.
Earlier on the card in a five furlong two year old race we may have seen another star. J C’S PRIDE a solid second to the aforementioned OVERDRIVEN in his debut, was quick from the gate, set the pace while in hand and drew off smartly to score while never being asked for run in track record time for five furlongs in 56:2. This two year old colt by HENNY HUGHES will probably get another meeting in the Hopeful with OVERDRIVEN, now that would be a race to see.
Looks like this will be a very exciting meeting based on the first five days, can’t wait for the next 35, good luck at the Spa!
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