American Turf Magazine
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Oct 17, 2014



               We start off this week’s lead with some sad news. On Tuesday October 14th, at Indiana Grand Racetrack in the eighth race, there was a spill involving 17 year old apprentice Juan Saez when his mount clipped heels and he was thrown. He was struck by a trailing horse and suffered severe head trauma and ultimately passed away later that night. Juan was an up and coming apprentice whose brother, Luis Saez is a top rider on the NYRA circuit. This tragedy just shows how quick a jockey’s life could be lost as they put themselves in danger each time they go out and ride.

               On a lighter note there were three stakes races run over the turf (two of them graded) at Belmont over the weekend  of October 11th-13th. On Saturday October 11th, Belmont hosted the Grade III Knickerbocker, a race for three year olds and upward run over the turf at a distance of 1 and 1/8th miles with a purse of $200,000. With plenty of rain in the area the race was run over a yielding turf course. With a few scratches there was a field of six that went postward with Up With The Birds going off as the slight 2-1 favorite. The speedy Plainview broke running from the inside and set the pace over the yielding course through fractions of 23:4, 49, 1:14:1, 1:38:4. As they moved into the lane Plainview didn’t have any run left but Legendary, who stalked the pace from third had made big move to take over the lead. The five year old gelding who shipped in from Great Britain for his first start in April at Keeneland was scoring his first graded stakes score as he held on to score by just over a length. Up With The Birds, who trailed the field early on put in a good run to finish second while Mshawish checked in third. The final time over the rain soaked course was a slow 1:51:3.

               On Sunday, October the 12th, Belmont hosted the Grade III Athenia stakes, for fillies and mares thee years old and upward run over the turf at a distance of 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $200,000. The race was run over a yielding course as well and there was a field of 10 that went postward with Annecdote going off as the even money favorite. When the gates opened La Tia, a speedy five year old mare was sent right to the lead under jockey Joel Rosario. She lead through fractions of 25:1, 48:4, 1:12:3, 1:36:4, she was still there into the lane and dug in gamely to hold on to score by a neck as the 7-2 second choice. Byrama, who stalked the pace from fourth closed well to finish second beaten a neck but was just a nose in front of Overheard, the third place finisher. Annecdote, stalked from fifth but was evenly throughout and finished a disappointing fifth. La Tia put her career earnings over $800,000 with that win, her ninth in 22 starts for trainer Armando De La Cerda.

               Finally on Monday, October 13th, Columbus Day Belmont hosted their third turf stakes of the weekend when they ran the Pebbles Stakes, a race for three year old fillies, run over a mile on the turf with a purse of $200,000. There was a field of 11 that went postward in this race with Kenzadargent going off as the favorite on the basis of her two wins in this country for trainer Chad Brown. Distorted Beauty, a New York bred filly who was 3 for 4 over the turf coming into this race was sent right to the lead over a good course and sent fractions of 24, 48, 1:11:4 and led from the start and into the lane. As they moved into the lane, Distorted Beauty held a clear lead with the favorite Kenzadargent chasing from third but she came up empty in the lane and tired to finish sixth. As they got closer to the wire Distorted Beauty still  looked like a winner until Lady Lara exploded in the final 1/8th a mile and got up to score by a half-length in a solid final time of 1:35:1. That was a final ¼ mile of 23:2 and Lady Lara’s final ¼ mile was a lot faster than that as she had some ground to make up. Walk Close checked in third with Sandiva running fourth. That was the 3rd win of Lady Lara’s career from 14 starts and her first for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. It will be interesting to see how she mature’s but she definitely has a strong kick and could be one to watch next year. Distorted Beauty was not disgraced in defeat and her speed makes her a threat each time.


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