The Fourth of July weekend in the Metropolitan area had many fireworks but the area
racetracks also had their share of fireworks with many graded races on the card.
At Belmont on July 4th Belmont hosted two Grade II’s and a Grade I. The Tom Fool handicap
for three year old and upward going seven furlongs featured Bobby Frankel trainee ALDEBARAN
who was coming off a disappointing third in the Stephen Foster. The 1 and 1/8 mile Stephen Foster
around two turns was too far for ALDEBARAN and his return to sprinting was a winning one.
Matched against an average field of sprinters at best, ALDEBARAN was able to close from dead last
and score going away as the 4-5 favorite. PEEPING TOM, who had accomplished much in his career
was a clear cut second. ALDEBARAN will most likely be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint but seven
furlongs seems to be his best distance.
In the following race, the Grade I Prioress Stakes featured a field of eight well matched horses.
HOUSE PARTY who was sent off as the 2-1 favorite exploded in deep stretch for the score, drawing
away to win by more than three lengths. After a disappointing try in the Acorn Stakes, HOUSE PARTY
showed that her best distance may also be at seven furlongs and she now has both a Grade I and
Grade II win at the distance. CHIMICHURRI finished a fast closing second with PRINCESS V. holding
on for third. The race which was run in 1:09:2 was marred by an incident on the turn when IN SECURE,
a filly trained by Louie Roussel was making a big move up the rail but ran into the back of PRINCESS V.
and had to check hard causing her to hit the rail. She finished fifth but could have been much closer with
a clean trip. She came out of the race in good shape and will be one to watch later in the year.
In the last graded race on the July 4th card the Grade II New York Handicap run on the turf at 1 and ¼ mile
for three year old and upward fillies and mares. The favorite in the race was the Bobby Frankel entry of
PERTUISANE, TREKKING and LILAC QUEEN. They were sent off at 3-5 and finished 2nd, 5th and 8th
respectively. The winner of the race was longshot SNOW DANCE who was previously beaten by 37
lengths in her last start. That race however, was run over a water-logged turf course and she got nothing
out of that race. Her races last year were very good and made her a contender in here. She stalked the
pace of TREKKING and took over before holding off the other part of the entry PERTUISANE.
The following day Belmont hosted the Grade III Poker and the Grade I Suburban handicap, while
at Monmouth they hosted the Grade I United Nations Handicap.
In the Poker the race went to who else, Bobby Frankel, who trained WAR ZONE to the victory.
The Poker came up very weak this year and didn’t feature many notable horses. The time of the race
was a solid 1:32:4 run over a firm turf course.
The following race was the Suburban which featured MINESHAFT (one of the top handicap
horses in the country), VOLPONI (last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner) and DOLLAR BILL
(first time for Bobby Frankel). Breaking from the inside post MINESHAFT stalked the slow early pace
of longshot JUDGE’S CASE and took at about the mile mark of the race with VOLPONI in close pursuit.
As they entered the stretch VOLPONI, who was all out, was within a half length of MINESHAFT.
As they approached midstretch MINESHAFT started to edge away without any encouragement and
won as easy as a horse could win. VOLPONI held on to second and DOLLAR BILL, who never made
an impact finished a well beaten third. MINESHAFT is the best horse in the country right now and it
will be interesting to see what happens when he meets up with MEDAGLIA D’ORO or CONGAREE.
At Monmouth on July 5th the United Nations handicap for three year olds and upward at 1 and 3/8’s
mile on the grass featured a well matched field of seven turf horses. The field was so well matched that the
race went to 37-1 shot BALTO STAR who was able to back the pace down before sprinting home in track
record time. THE TIN MAN held well for second chasing the leader throughout with LUNAR SOVEREIGN
finishing third. The two favorites in the race DENON and REQUETE both trained by Bobby Frankel finished
off the board. WITH ANTICIPATION, last year’s winner finished dead last and his age may have finally
caught up with him.
All of these races will have an impact on the Breeders’ Cup and the handicap division looks like they
have a few stars with MINESHAFT, shining brightest right now.