US Stakes Racing Review
Saturday was a notable one for trainer Chad Brown as he swept the board with a 1-2-3 in the Very one Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He won it with Olorda, who was given a masterful ride from the by Julien Leparoux. The turf track was very fast and Leparoux immediately took his charge to the front and controlled the fractions from the front and kept enough in reserve to hold off the late move of 3/5 favorite Dacita by a neck with Guapaza back in third. The winning time of 1 minute 51.54 seconds broke the previous track record by over 1 ½ seconds
Chad also recorded a podium finish with Mr Maybe in the other turf stakes race on the card, the Mac Diarmida Stakes. The race was won by Grand Tito, who was registering his first graded stakes success. He had looked like a permanent bridesmaid with a string of good placed efforts to his name but he was not to be denied this time. Given a fine ride by Emisael Jaramillo, Grand Tito stalked the pace set by O’Prado Ole before making his bid 1 ½ furlongs out and held off Kaigun by 1 ¼ lengths.
Kaigun is ultra-consistent and put up another fine effort her but one gets the feeling that, at the highest quality level of racing, he does not have an ideal trip as he does not appear to have the speed to win at shorter distances nor the stamina necessary to win the “route” races such as the Mac Diarmida.
In the feature race on the card, the $0.5m Gulfstream Park Handicap, Valid looked to have a great chance despite being up against 4 pupils from the class of Todd Pletcher. Unfortunately, the race was marred by an incident in the stretch when pace-setter Anchor Down (one of the Todd Pletcher four) hung out and gave a mighty bump to the closing Valid, who stumbled badly and almost unseated jockey Nik Juarez. Horse and jockey did well to stay together and rallied to finish fourth beaten 3 ½ lengths. Naturally Valid was promoted to third following Anchor Down’s disqualification but it remains a frustrating result as we will never know who was the deserved winner of the race.
The race was won by Blofeld, who was given a canny ride by John Velasquez, saving ground up the inside all the way. As the race panned out, this route had the additional benefit of avoiding the carnage caused by Anchor Down out wide. This was the first win in 16 months for this son of Quality Road, who defeated another Pletcher runner, Stanford, by a head.
Over at Aqueduct, we had a Kentucky Derby prep race in the form of the Gotham Stakes worth a cool $400k. It’s hard to know what to make of this race. Shagaf was a horse with potential being 2 from his only 2 starts to date. However, this looked a below average renewal of the race with almost no stakes form in the race. Add to this the fact that there is a major speed bias on the inside of this track and this gave plenty of reasons to downgrade the winner’s performance.
Having said that, he won well and ran green in the closing stages, drifting out to the middle of the track in the stretch, suggesting that there is more to come. This may persuade connections to have a crack at the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in May.