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Aug 22, 2014

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-ALABAMA

By: JOE GIRARDI


               On the weekend of August 16th and 17th, Saratoga hosted three graded races, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. The Grade II Lake Placid, a $300,000 race for filly three year olds run over the turf at 1 and 1/8th miles distance was run on Saturday as well as the Grade I Alabama stakes, for filly three year olds run over 1 and ¼ miles with a purse of $600,000.

               In the Lake Placid there was a field of four horses that went postward with three of those horses between odds of 6-5 and 2-1 with Duff One going off as the outsider at 12-1. As the gates broke, Duff One came out running for the lead and set the pace through fractions of 24, 48:3, 1:12:3 with Crown Queen tracking her every move. As they continued down the backstretch and around the final turn, Duff One still held the lead with Crown Queen right there and Xcellence trying to gain up the inside. As they came to the wire, Crown Queen dug in and was able to game out the victory by a half-length over the front runner Duff One with Xcellence just a head back in third, Minorette was another length back in fourth. Crown Queen, trained by Bill Mott and half-sister to the great Royal Delta has now run her record to 3 for 5 with two third place finishes all over the turf. This three year old filly has a bright future ahead of her and would love to see her try the dirt at one time.

               In the Grade I Alabama there was a field of nine that went postward with Stopchargingmaria going off as the even money favorite based on a huge win in the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks back in July 20th. When the gates opened, Size the 5-1 second choice came out running from post 9 and set the pace through 24:1, 49:4, 1:15 flat with Stopchargingmaria stalking the leaders from second with Catch My Drift racing in third. As they moved into the far turn, Stopchargingmaria took over the lead with Miss Besilu making a sharp inside move cutting the corner to take over the lead into the lane. As they continued through the lane Miss Besilu was battling with Stopchargingmaria to the 1/8th pole but Stopchargingmaria started to edge away and was all out to hold off a fast closing Joint Return in a slow final time of 2:05 flat. Stopchargingmaria has now won two Grade I races in a row and is closing the gap on Untapable the leader of the three year old filly division. Joint Return closed well to finish second at 24-1 when adding blinkers and she is an improving runner for trainer John Servis. Miss Besilu, a three year old filly who was bought back in 2011 for $2.6 million dollars held on for third and is another who is improving and could be one to reckon with as the year goes on and into next year.

               On Sunday August 17th, Saratoga hosted the Grade I Sword Dancer Invitational, a race for three year olds and upward run over the turf at 1 ½ miles with a purse of $500,000. There was a field of seven horses that went postward with Main Sequence going off as the slight favorite at 2-1 based on his fast closing win in the Grade I United Nations at Monmouth Park. When the gates broke, Main Sequence got off to a bad start while O’Prado Ole came out running for the lead with second choice Imagining challenging him through the first ¼ mile. After they turned into the stretch the first time Imagining took over the lead and third choice Twilight Eclipse right up on the leader through some solid fractions for this distance of 23:1, 47, 1:12:3, 1:37:2. As they moved around the final turn and into the lane Imagining was still on the lead with Twilight Eclipse still right there with Main Sequence finally unleashing his rally in the middle of the course. As they came through the final 1/8th of a mile, Imagining was holding strong over Twilight Eclipse but Main Sequence was flying under jockey Rajiv Maragh and he got up in the final jump to score by a head over a game Imagining who was ¾’s of a length ahead of Twilight Eclipse who was another 1 and ½ ahead of War Dancer who checked in third. The final time of the race was a solid 2:24:3, although fast it was still over a second off the track record. Main Sequence pushed his record to 6 wins from 16 tries and his earnings moved well over the $1 million mark. Imagining who won the Grade I Man O’ War back in May ran a huge race for second and Twilight Eclipse also ran very well checking in third. Expect to hear from these three as the prep races for the Breeders’ Cup start in about a month or so.

 



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