Jan 20, 2004
AMERICAN TURF LEAD-QUESTING-WINDINGWAY
By: JOE GIRARDI
Believe it or not as summer is winding down so are the meetings at Saratoga and Del Mar. With less than two weeks less in both meets and the highlights of the meetings coming up, the Travers at Saratoga and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar we will take a look at two races from last week that got me to say WOW! The Alabama Stakes at Saratoga and the Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar.
At Saratoga they hosted the Grade I Alabama Stakes for three year old fillies with a purse of $600,000 run over a distance of 1 and ¼ miles. A field of seven went postward in the Alabama with GRACE HALL going off as the even money favorite while coming off an easy win in the Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park in her last start. The second choice in the race was QUESTING, who was riding a two race win streak, an NW1X allowance race back at Belmont in late June and then a huge win in the Coaching Club American Oaks, a Grade I here at Saratoga on opening weekend. ZO IMPRESSIVE and IN LINGERIE who finished second and third respectively in the Coaching Club American Oaks were also back to contest this 1 and ¼ distance. As the gates opened, as expected, QUESTING under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was sent right to the lead establishing a clear early lead while being track by ZO IMPRESSIVE, GRACE HALL and IN LINGERIE into the backstretch. As they continued down the backstretch, QUESTING was still clear and was setting some very solid fractions of 22:4, 46, 1:09:3. As they moved into the far turn, QUESTING was still well clear of IN LINGERIE who moved into second with ZO IMPERSSIVE racing in third and GRACE HALL faltering in the lane checking in a well beaten fifth. Through the lane QUESTING continued her dominance drawing away from IN LINGERIE to score by a decisive nine lengths in a very solid time of 2:01:1 for the 1 and ¼ miles despite drifting in and out as it looked like she was shying from her riders whip. IN LINGERIE was a clear second, eight lengths over third place finisher VIA VILLAGGIO who got up for third over ZO IMPRESSIVE. Very little else you can say about this performance except WOW! As she has now put in two huge races in two Grade I’s and is the leading candidate for three year old filly. Her next start is expected to be in the Grade I Cotillion at Parx Racing on September 22nd, but that has not yet been confirmed. Some unfortunate news out of the Alabama was that Zo Impressive, the Mother Goose winner, who finished fourth and had to be vanned off with what was diagnosed as a condylar fracture to her right front cannon bone. The injury is considered career-threatening, but not life-threatening, according to Dr. Celeste Kunz, the on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, that according to an article in the Daily Racing Form.
Moving to Del Mar on Sunday August 19th, they hosted the Grade III Rancho Bernardo Handicap for fillies and mares, three year olds and upward, run over 6 ½ furlongs with a purse of $150,000. There was a field of seven that went postward with three year old filly WINDING WAY going off as the 7-5 favorite in the race. Previously undefeated in her first two starts going wire to wire in both of them, she figured to be up close again breaking from post 2. As the gates opened, she turned her head and hopped at the start spotting the field about five lengths. Under jockey Rafael Bejarano, who was very patient and he trailed the field behind fractions of 22:1, 45. As they moved into the far turn, WINDING WAY started to make her move while coming very wide into the lane, she was closing well in the lane, she drifted in a bit affecting third place finisher RUMOR but got up to score by a half-length in a WOW effort over pacesetter SUGARINTHEMORNING. WINDING WAY had to survive an inquiry for drifting in a bit in the lane and ran her record to now 3 for 3 with her most recent win the most impressive by far. This horse should be considered one of the top contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in two months.
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