US Racing - Saturday Graded Stakes Review
Last Saturday provided us with a feast of quality racing, the highlight of which was Belmont’s Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes for three year old fillies over a mile and a sixteenth.
The clear cut winner of the race was Off The Tracks, who upheld the form of the Acorn Stakes in no uncertain manner. Unlucky in running that day, connections were in no mood for a recurrence and she bounced out of the stalls and lead from tape to wire, drawing clear in the straight to win by 3 ½ lengths, posting some decent fractions at the same time.
It will be interesting to see where connections go with this exciting filly. Will we see her take on Songbird or will they plough separate paths until an inevitable match-up at the Breeders’ Cup?
Gulfstream Park’s Summit of Speed card was full of top quality races and the cream on the top was a pair of two Grade 2 sprints, each worth $250,000.
The first of these was the Smile Sprint Handicap over 6 furlongs with the punters making it a straight match between the two shippers in the form of Limousine Liberal and Delta Bluesman. At the off the market had just about decided in favor of Limousine Liberal at 7/5 with Delta Bluesman on 6/4.
However, the actual race provided nothing like a close match as Delta Bluesman quickly assumed his front running role and, after a brief tussle with Chief Lion in the top of the straight, drew away in the closing stages to win comfortably by 3 ¾ lengths from a never-nearer Limousine Liberal. The winner now has a free entry to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Whether he is good enough to wire the field in that race is a moot point but it will be exciting to see him try!
Birdatthewire (11/10) was all the rage for the other Grade 2 on the card, the Princess Rooney Handicap over seven furlongs, which (like the Smile) gave the winner an expenses-paid entry to a Breeders’ Cup race, on this occasion it would be the Filly and Mare Sprint.
Unfortunately for favorite backers, Birdatthewire was never really in the hunt. She was held up at the rear and, though looking threatening early on in the straight, she never reached the leaders.
Spelling Again, who has beaten the favorite in the past, earned the free pass to the BC Fillies and Mares Sprint with a neck victory over Cali Star. Cali Star looked unlucky as she was checked in making her run at the leader and then had to come out wide to make her run. Defenders of Spelling Again would probably reply by saying that She never changed leads in the straight and this would have cost her end-stretch momentum.
Finally we cross the border to Canada for the “Run for the Roasties”, Woodbine’s Grade 2 King Edward Stakes, a $200k race over a mile of the turf track.
Full Mast, trained by Bill Mott, was a very useful 2 year old in france with plenty of graded race form to his name. As such he went off a solid 11/10 favorite. However, although he looked menacing at the top of the stretch, his run petered out and he could finish only 4th, beaten just over 2 lengths.
The winner was the British bred Dimension, who was held off the pace early and came with a wide run to take command a furlong out and win by 1 ¼ lengths. A relatively ordinary handicapper in the UK, Dimension has really improved for his relocation across the pond and certainly is very much at home at Woodbine.