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Horse Racing Handicapping Saratoga Recap Week 2

Honorable Miss Recap (7-25-18) - Winner: Finley’sluckycharm

The track was listed as good, and the pace complexion of this dirt sprint stakes race changed dramatically following the defection of Chalon. Without Chalon in there, Vertical Oak was hustled along from the inside post under Ricardo Santana Jr. Not far behind her was strong favorite Finley’sluckycharm, and the chalk had every advantage from the outside post under Brian Hernandez Jr. This was a match race from the outset, and Finley’sluckycharm wore down Vertical Oak to win by a bit more than two lengths. The winning six furlong time was 1:09.48. Show finisher Kirby’s Penny was more than nine lengths behind the top two, and was followed across the line by Thirteen Songs and Faypien.

John Morrissey Stakes Recap (7-26-18) - Winner: Weekend Hideaway

The weather is wrecking havoc with these stakes races. On Monday, the soft turf lead to a tough to find longshot winner, and some horses clearly disliked the going. The recent wet conditions are causing some live contenders to scratch, like Chalon in Wednesday’s Honorable Miss, and Runaway Lute in today’s feature. These key scratches definitely altered the pace scenarios. For the Morrissey, the track was listed as muddy (sealed). Fractions were fast all day, and there were six front running winners on the Thursday program. Some horses hated the going in the Morrissey, and none more so than post time favorite Long Haul Bay. She was spinning her wheels out in the middle of the track in a throwout effort. Weekend Hideaway ($23.40) had no trouble with the going. She shot straight to the lead from the outside post and was never headed through fractions of 21.77, 43.93, and 1:08.52. She stopped the clock at 6.5 furlongs in 1:15.18. Eye Luv Lulu was in chase mode throughout and held 2nd by a nose over late runner Celtic Chaos. The latter was the only runner in the 7-horse field to make up any ground, and she is worth following for trainer Brad Cox.  

Curlin Stakes Recap (7-27-18) - Winner: Hofburg

Hofburg was supposed to win the Curlin Stakes easily, and he was much the best in a visually impressive score. The main track started out fast, but it was sloppy (sealed) by the third race. The track was speed favoring on Thursday, and there were six more wire jobs on Friday. The speed bias did not stop Hofburg. He was last of five for the first half-mile, but was on the move under Irad Ortiz Jr., and he rumbled past the field to win by five lengths (geared down). Nicodemus stalked the pace and was clearly second best over Zing Zang. Front runner American Lincoln and presser Madison’s Luna both faded to finish far back. The winner, trained by Bill Mott, looks like a major contender for the Travers Stakes on Aug. 25.


Grade III Amsterdam Recap (7-28-18) - Winner: Promises Fulfilled

The main track was drying out on Saturday, and it was listed as good through the first eight races. The wet surface was definitely speed favoring on July 26-27. Early/pressing types dominated once again on Jim Dandy Day, but most of the winners were pressers or stalkers, as opposed to front runners. In the Amsterdam, Strike Power was hustled to the front through fractions of 21.28 and 43.92. Promises Fulfilled was pressing the pace from the outset, and he grabbed the lead shortly after a half-mile. The six furlong time was 1:08.53, and stalker Engage was on the move. He made a run at Promises Fulfilled, but the latter swatted away his foe and won by 3-1/4 lengths in an impressive display of speed. Engage ran a big race and was more than nine lengths clear of show finisher Barry Lee. Strike Power just failed to hold the show, and was followed across the line by Soutache and Old Time Revival.

Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap Recap (7-28-18) - Winner: Imperial Hint

This was without a doubt the stakes performance of the day. Imperial Hint stalked wide under Javier Castellano, cruised up to the leaders, and burst clear while under a snug hold. He stopped the clock in 1:08.98 and might be the best sprinter in the country right now. Warrior’s Club emerged from midpack to finish a clear 2nd over late running show finisher Sweetontheladies. Mr. Crow, Switzerland, Petrov, and Done Deal completed the order of finish.

Grade II Bowling Green Recap (7-28-18) - Dead-Heat Winners: Channel Maker, Glorious Empire

This was not a strong race visually. 22-1 outsider Glorious Empire set the pace on the soft turf course, and post time favorite Hi Happy tracked him throughout before throwing in the towel. He probably did not handle the footing. In the meantime, Glorious Empire opened up a 3-length lead in the lane and looked long gone, but Channel Maker emerged from the pack and matched strides with the front runner to grab a share of the win. I cannot tell you how many times I thought the latter was a live contender, only to be burned over and over again. I gave up on him today, and he finally came to life. Sadler’s Joy ran on well in the lane and was getting to the top two, and my value top choice Bigger Picture showed decent late interest as well, but it was too little too late. I cannot wait for some overseas turf marathon runners to ship and win this fall.

Grade II Jim Dandy Recap (7-28-18) - Winner: Tenfold

This race had a downright ugly stretch run. It all started off innocent enough. Flameaway went to the front from the inside post as expected, and Tenfold presser intently under Ricardo Santana Jr. Reride was in a nice spot in 3rd, and Sporting Chance and a disinterested Vino Rosso trailed. Now, let the madness begin. As has been stated numerous times, Sporting Chance is a bit of a head case, and on this day, he swerved out, dropped back sharply, pulled up, and walked off. That was only the first strange occurrence. Tenfold confronted and went past Flameaway in the lane, and for some reason he veered out sharply late and ended up winning by a bit less than a length while way out in the middle of the track. Flameaway just held 2nd over Vino Rosso. The latter was going nowhere fast for quite some time before finally showing some interest in the lane under John Velazquez. I am having a hard time making a Travers case for any of these horses. Hofburg’s Curlin Stakes effort on Friday was much stronger visually. 

Grade III Shuvee Recap (7-29-18) - Winner: Farrell

Farrell got out to the front and was able to dictate terms under Channing Hill. She was cruising along by a couple of lengths for much of the running, and this race was won early on. Wow Cat chased gamely throughout in her US bow (first start since December 2017), and she came up a neck short while just holding the place over the surging Verve’s Tale. Ivy Bell raced evenly and probably wants less ground. Pacific Wind and Tiger Moth trailed.

Coronation Cup Recap (7-30-18) - Winner: Broadway Run

This five and one-half furlong turf sprint was run on a course labeled good, and the rail was set at 12 feet. Broadway Run, breaking from the outside post in this 10-horse field, shot straight to the front under Luis Saez and was never headed in a wire job win by three-quarters of a length. Other horses had speed on paper, but none of the riders seemed particularly interested in competing in the early going, except for Saez. Originator raced wide throughout and outfinished Lady Subee (wide stalking trip from post 9) for the place, and Tesora (wants more ground) was right behind them in 4th. There was a 2-1/2 length gap to 5th place finisher Closer Still, and Monimou, Factorofwon, Classy Dancer, Brattata, and Flashy Dancer completed the order of finish.

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