Saturday proved to be a day full of upsets with many short priced favorites running well below expectations.
The Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds was a definite case in point. Many betters thought this was a straight race between Mo Tom and Airoforce but Airoforce was bumped early and emptied badly while Mo Tom’s staying powers were never called into play on a fast track. He was making ground well at the close but lost momentum when hampered by the errant Bistraya and could not re-rally in time. Compensation awaits when upped marginally in trip and on a slightly less slick surface.
This should take nothing away from Gun Runner, who ran bravely under a powerful Geroux ride to beat Forevamo by ½ length at 5/1.
Staying at Fair Grounds, the Rachel Alexandra Stakes looked a shoe-in for the 3/5 shot Stageplay but, as we know, life isn’t always like that. On a fast track with some crazy fractions being set, it does not pay to be tracking the pace on a wide trip but that was exactly what Stageplay did and she was a spent force in the final furlong.
Midnight in Oconee ran a great race considering. She settled just off the pace and came with a widish run but it was only in the last sixteenth that she gave second best to rail-hugging Venus valentine, who had been last for much of the trip. Venus Valentine was by some margin the outsider of the field, being returned at a tasty 74/1.
Another odds-on defeat occurred in the Mineshaft Handicap where 3/5 favourite International Star, who had been so impressive last time out, trailed in a well beaten fourth of four. Majestic Harbor, the lone speed in the race was able to set comfortable fractions and hung tough in the stretch to hold off second favorite Eagle by a head. The son of Rockport Harbor had not won for 8 races but he does have a Grade 1 win to his name and will always have a chance when running at this level.
Santa Anita’s big race of the day was the Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes for fillies and mares over the turf mile. This looked an open race as they went 3/1 the field. Stormy Lucy has been bedevilled by slow starts and so it proved again in this race. She had a tough trip, having to come 4 wide into the stretch and, although she was closing fast she failed catch Paulina’s Love, who prevailed by a neck.
Paulina’s Love, who seems to be benefiting from extended gaps between races, was always up with the pace and stole enough yardage when accelerating into the stretch to hold on for the win.
British import Prize Exhibit was disappointing. She pulled hard early on and had nothing left at the business end of the race.
At Aqueduct, the feature race (Franklin Square) was another for fillies, this time for 3 year olds only over 6 furlongs. This looked to be a 2 horse race between Clipthecouponannie and Frosty Margarita and so it proved.
It was nip and tuck for much of the stretch and maybe Frosty Margarita got her head in front but Clipthecouponannie hung tough at the close to win by ½ length at odds of 3/5.