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Monday, June 7, 2010

Oh Lightning Fast Monmouth Turf!

While the Belmont Stakes card dominated this past weekend, a number of other interesting performances should be noted, beginning with the one-mile turf world record (1:31.23) set at Monmouth by 6-year-old gelding Mandurah. Once a member of the Darley stable, he’s lingered in claiming ranks of late, having been available for $7,500 as recently as February. However, he is a full-brother to multiple G1-winning filly Flashing, and closely related to G1 Kentucky Oaks winner Seaside Attraction (dam of G1 Florida Derby champ Cape Town and 1995 champion 2-year-old filly Golden Attraction); Queen’s Plate victor Key to the Moon; and multiple-G1 victress Gorgeous. Quite a pedigree, but obviously had some issues (apparently mental). Still, he’d won three of his last four races, and this was his first start ever on turf (duh, you would thought someone would have figured out sooner to try turf). By A.P. Indy out of a Machiavellian mare who was a G3 turf winner in France, there’s no way this boy should have been overlooked, but the record was a bit surprising.

Two races later, Two Notch Road remained undefeated over Monmouth’s turf course after impressively wiring an 8.5 furlong allowance field in a new track record time (1:39.2). He’s been on my radar since his win in the Continental Mile last August—at 107-1! He won on opening weekend with John Velasquez up, but regular rider Shannon Uske guided him to a victory over such competitors as G1 Secretariat third-place finisher Laureate Conductor and 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf third-place finisher Coronet of a Baron. Not bad for the only 3-year-old in the field!

Mine That Bird’s little ½ brother Brother Bird is a maiden still, having finished second (for the third time) in Race 12 at Monmouth on Saturday. Having finished in the money in all four of his lifetime races, surely this colt will put in together soon.

3-year-old Fillies Update
After her non-performance in the Kentucky Oaks, nearly 40-1 Champagne D’Oro capturing the G1 Acorn was surprising, but really shouldn’t have been with the favorable cut-back in distance and off a bullet workout. Martin Garcia got her to break much better, and she never relinquished the lead. Her dam Champagne Glow finished second to Meadow Star in the 1 mile G1 Frizette in 1990, and Champagne D’Oro has looked much better on dirt this year than in California last year. Tidal Pool just looks exhausted, while Amen Hallelujah did well to get up for second.

Still, for what looked to be a competitive race going it, the Acorn was ultimately pretty disappointing. Maybe Blind Luck would have done better running into this race’s “speed” as opposed to the painfully pedestrian fractions set in the G2 Hollywood Oaks. Especially if the plan is to run Blind Luck in the G1 Coaching Club American Oaks and the G1 Alabama, why did they skip the first jewel of the Filly Triple Tiara?

Isn’t it time to give much-raced Joanie’s Catch a rest? I loved her Florida form this winter, but after her 10th place finish in the Oaks, they ran her in a 5f turf optional claimer against older mares where she finished a respectable third. However, in the 1 mile turf Sweettrickydancer Stakes at Calder on Sunday, she was a well-beaten eighth and never a factor. Give her a break, for god’s sake!

No Such Word returned from her runner-up effort in the G2 Black-Eyed Susan to win the 8.5f Go For Wand at Delaware on Saturday. While certainly not in record time (1:46.11), Terry Thompson had her loping along effortlessly until called to run as they entered the final turn where she was forced four-wide, and fought back gamely against Havre de Grace for the victory. Havre de Grace (Saint Liam out of the Carson City mare Easter Bunnette) is a filly to put in your Virtual Stable, as she looks to have a graded stakes win in her future. Maybe turf too? Her dam is a half-sister to The Bink (Seeking The Gold), dam of back-to-back G1 Flower Bowl victress Riskaverse.


The_Knight_Sky said...

The significance of No Such Word's stretch duel against Havre de Grace is not to be underestimated.

Mr. and Mrs. Larry Jones got a good measure of Havre de Grace who is owned by their former client Fox Hill Farms.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the number of other interesting performances this week, what do you think about the interesting possibility of running General Quarters in the Stephen Foster? I was hoping to see him in something like the United Nations or Man o'War, but maybe they don't figure he can get the distance.

Valerie Grash said...

Anon, I think you may be right about the distance issue with General Quarters. But wasn't it nice to see him win, especially with the heavy turf going? It takes a pretty special horse to pick up the challenge of Court Vision (or any other late closer) in the bog and keep going like he did. I suppose trying the Stephen Foster is mostly due to his connections, and Churchill being "home." I wonder how he might do if sent to California for the Hollywood Gold Cup?

Anonymous said...

I love General Quarters, especially since I took a chance on him when I went down to KY for the Derby this year and won a good amount of money on his nice odds with the trifecta. McCarthy's great-niece used to work with me during the Derby last year when General Quarters was the "feel-good" story.