This weekend’s Horse Racing Race(s) of the week take us coast to coast and then some as there is great racing action around the country on this 4th of July weekend. I will be focusing in on the 2013 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park in New York, where Flat Out looks to redeem himself off a recent defeat but won’t have an easy time of it as 2012 Travers dead heat winner Alpha and Last Gunfighter, a winner of five straight, are also entered, and the 2013 Hollywood Gold Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park in California where leading 2013 Horse of the Year candidate Game On Dude looks to extend a four race winning streak. Both races drew small fields of five.
Before I get into those two races I wanted to point out several major races around the country starting with the $500,000 United Nation Handicap at Monmouth Park. The race features a plethora of turf stars led by Little Mike, who albeit is 0 for 2 this year, (both in Dubai) had a monstrous year in 2012 by winning the Arlington Million, The Breeders Cup Turf, The Woodford Reserve and the Florida Sunshine Millions on the Turf. He will be opposed by Teaks North as well as Willcox Inn.
Down in Florida, Calder Race Course is having their “Summit of Speed” day. The two biggest races are the Smile Sprint which will feature 2012 Sprint Champion Trinniberg. Trinniberg will face a full field of 14 others including the speedy Trickmeister, multiple stakes winner Justin Phillip, Apriority, Gulfstream Sprint Championship winner Fort Loudon and the veteran Jackson Bend.
The following race is the Princess Rooney Stakes which drew a big (13) field as well. On paper, to me, it looks like a three horse race between Judy Beauty, who has never been worse than second in nine career starts, Reneesgotzip, who was beaten a neck in the Grade: 1 LaBrea Stakes her last time out and Capitalism at Risk, who is riding a five race winning streak.
Back on the other coast, the Dwyer Stakes, which is run at a one and one sixteenths miles, is on the Suburban under-card and Saint Vigeur, who sports a 3-2-1-0 in 2013 including a solid second in the Peter Pan Stakes in his last start, will take on the Todd Pletcher trained Battier, who owns a 5-3-1-1 career record.
Belmont Park – Saturday, July 6, 2013
Race 8 – 4:45 PM
For Three Year Olds and Upward
One And One Eighth Miles.
I Ortiz, Jr.
K P McLaughlin
J R Velazquez
T A Pletcher
C C Brown
W I Mott
C H Velasquez
N P Zito
1) Last Gunfighter- appears to be a rising star as he has blossomed as well as a horse possibly could since last fall.
He has now won six straight races (all in come from behind fashion), on three different racetracks and, of the six wins, four were against stakes competition with two coming against Grade: 3 foes.
This four year old colt by First Samurai’s speed figures have climbed steadily during the win streak as well and, to me, he clearly looks best on paper.
2) Flat Out- suffered his first defeat on this (Belmont) surface in his last (Met Mile, May 27). In that race, he was taken back to eighth position early and came with a solid late run but it just wasn’t good enough to catch a streaking Sahara Sky and Cross Traffic and had to settle for third.
I expect a good race from this now seven year old by Flatter and I realize he is obviously on his favorite surface, but looking back over his past performances; he’s only won twice in the past 12 calendar months.
No way he should be the “stick” (even money morning line favorite) here and I’m going to try to beat him.
3) Percussion- blew a clear three length lead down the stretch in the Brooklyn Handicap (to Calidoscopio), which, by the way, was a sensational race (here it is again in case you missed it).
A side from that, this speedy bay colt by Bluegrass Cat had won three of five prior wire to wire and should be on the early lead again come Saturday afternoon….possible threat to take them all the way?
Honorable Mention: Alpha is racing back in New York where he seems to be at his best but he hasn’t won, or even run well, since his last win (the Travers dead heat) and that was almost a year ago. If he is going to bounce back with a good effort to resurrect his career, this might be the spot
Betfair Hollywood Park – Saturday, July 6, 2013
Race 9 – 5:00 PM
Hollywood Gold Cup
For Three-Year-Olds and Upward
One and One Quarter Miles
C A Lewis
Game On Dude
M E Smith
E A Maldonado
J W Sadler
1) Game On Dude- leading Horse of the Year candidate seeks his fifth consecutive win as he won his last race in 2012 (The Native Diver), then registered two blow out wins (San Antonio Handicap and Santa Anita Handcap), before “digging in and holding on gamely” in the Charlestown Classic in his last.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has been aboard for all four wins and I think he, like trainer Bob Baffert and myself, have finally figured this now six year old gelding by Awesome Again out.
He is free running horse who does not, under any circumstances, like to be rated…at least no further back about second or possibly third position early on.
In looking at his past performances, I noticed that every time he was taken off the pace further than second or third early, he did NOT run well.
However, when he’s either been on the lead early or no worse than second, he’s been dominant.
With no real serious speed entered in this race, this race looks like his to lose….wire to wire and down the road on Saturday evening.
2) Clubhouse Ride- finally broke a nasty case of “seconditis” with a very impressive score in the Californian Handicap in his last (June 1).
The only problem I see is he’s been beaten three consecutive times by Game On Dude, including being man handled by him in two of those three times.
But perhaps this horse is improving and has “closed the gap” sort of speak on Game On Dude….that, to me, looks like the only logical angle to take should you bet this horse.
3) Kettle Corn- has finished on the board in eight of his last 10 starts over the past year and a half….looks best of a very average rest.
Record: 9-31 = 29%
Little Bets N’ Pieces:
**** 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb breezed for the first time since his disappointing his third-place finish in the June 6 Belmont Stakes at FairHill Training Center in Maryland.
According to trainer Shug McGaughey Orb went three furlongs in :36 and galloped out a half in :48 and change under regular rider Jen Patterson.
“This is his first work (since the Belmont) and we thought he went great,” McGaughey said. “Bruce Jackson texted me right after the work and said he went great, Jen called me when she got off him and said everything went well, he went easy and came home great.”
”When I sent him to Fair Hill from Belmont the plan was to keep him there two weeks,” McGaughey added. “It’s been maybe 26 days since the Belmont and after time was kind of up, I told Bruce ‘You’ll kind of have to guide me here a little bit.’ He said, ‘This horse is doing so good here, he seems so happy.’ So we haven’t moved him and I told Jen the other day, our stable’s going to move (from Belmont to Saratoga) on Sunday week, but he doesn’t have to move if he continues to do as well as he’s doing there.”
Orb will probably pass the Jim Dandy (July 27), the traditional Travers prep, and go straight to the Travers Stakes.
“My plans are straight to the Travers, but that could change,” McGaughey said. “One thing I want to be careful of is, I don’t want to take two steps forward and one step back.”
**** On the other hand, 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice is being pointed the Jim Dandy, owner Cot Campbell said. The good looking colt returned to training after his 3 1/4-length Belmont win with a four-furlong work over the training track at Belmont in :49.2 on June 23 and an easy half in :49.2 on June 23 at Saratoga.
“Todd put him back in work a little earlier than he expected because the horse was bouncing around and asking for it,” Campbell said. “He had his second work this past Sunday and he’s doing great. I guess we’ll work next time on the main track.
“He’s a very durable, tough, earnest racehorse who seems to be getting better. He’s a May 2 foal so he’s got a license to have been slightly behind the others… he shows signs of really coming into his own and we’re delighted. It’ll be nice going to Saratoga with (the Belmont) under our belts and two big races to look at. Hopefully we’ll come out of the Jim Dandy in great shape and have a legit shot to go to the Travers and I wouldn’t think we shouldn’t expect that.”
**** 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow has not yet recorded his first breeze since finishing second in the Belmont for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
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