US Racing - Review of Saturday's Graded Stakes Action
Saratoga’s Diana Stakes, a Grade 1 race for fillies and mares over a mile and an eighth of the turf track was the highlight of Saturday’s racing program. It was won by the Chilean bred Dacita, who was held up in last place for much of the race before producing a strong run on the outside to win by a nose.
Reading the bare result with Miss Temple City (6/4 favorite) out of the first three, it would be easy to make the assumption that she did not stay the trip, particularly as this was her fourth failed attempt at a mile and an eighth. However, based on this run in isolation, that assumption would be somewhat unfair. She was interrupted a little when starting her run, had to attack up the far rail which may not have been ideal and she was only beaten two noses and a head.
Having said that, she was not making ground at the end of the race and, in my opinion she will probably continue to struggle at this trip at the highest level. I would imagine that connections will drop her back to a mile in future.
The other graded stakes race on the Saratoga card was the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes, a 6 furlong sprint for the juveniles (2 year olds). Everything pointed in this race to it being a straight shoot out between Bitumen and Random Walk and it proved to be the case.
I am always nervous about going overboard about juvenile performances because animals of this age are at such differing stages of development that it is difficult to know whether a good performance is due to talent or precocity. Having said that, Bitumen’s win had plenty to like about it. He was gun driven throughout but was still willing at the end to pull 1 ¾ lengths clear of Random Walk. I will look forward to see how the form of the race pans out.
Over at Del Mar, the San Diego Handicap, a Grade 2 race over a mile and a sixteenth of the main track, gave us the chance to watch the mighty California Chrome in his first race back from winning the World Cup back in March.
This looked an intriguing race as Dortmund is a serious animal and would expose any chinks in CC’s armour if he wasn’t fully fit. We hoped for a good race and we were certainly not disappointed. Dortmund made the running before Dortmund put his head in front 2 ½ furlongs out and then it was hammer and tongs for the rest of the race with CC just prevailing by ½ a length. Truly a race to stir the blood.
Over in the 6 ½ furlong Bold Venture Stakes at Woodbine, Noholdingback Bear looked to have a great chance of landing the prize as his recent form looked a cut above the opposition. The backers duly sent him off a 2/5 favorite. He tried to make all Patrick Husbands on Puntrooskie was always stalking well and, after a duel in the straight, Puntrooskie was edging away at the end to win by ½ a length.
The Jersey Shore Stakes at Monmouth is the final race of our review. Full Salute was sent off the 11/5 favorite in this grade 3 race for 3 year olds over 6 furlongs. However, he was missing his regular pilot, Paco Lopez, and his recent Beyer figures did not inspire confidence at such a short price.
Front Pocket Money had been running well and the form of his recent performances had a very encouraging look about it. A strong front-running performance looked on the cards at this distance on a fast track and so it proved with Front Pocket Money making all to win by half a length from the closing Yellow Chips. The winner has now won 60% of his five starts and looks a versatile sprinter.