Monday, August 05, 2013
Saratoga Race Course Notes
• Asmussen targeting Breeders' Cup Sprint with Justin Phillip, short-range plans uncertain
• Authenticity, Shanghai Bobby, juveniles breeze for Pletcher; Caixa 'fine' after Vanderbilt
• G1 Foxwoods King's Bishop the target for sharp optional claimer winner Majestic Hussar
• Brown looks ahead with debut winners Calm Pacific, La Reine Bourbon; Big Blue Kitten under consideration for G1 Sword Dancer
• Jacobson wins 17-way shake to reclaim Road Agent
• Palace Dreams heads NYSS Statue of Liberty
The 5-year-old son of First Samurai came a neck shy of winning last year's Vanderbilt and had won two of eight starts since, including the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park in April.
By winning the Vanderbilt, Justin Phillip added $240,000 to his purse earnings, pushing him to $1,118,437 in 29 lifetime starts. He ran six furlongs in 1:08.59.
"He came out of it really well," trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday morning. "It's tremendous. He's a very deserving horse, to have a Grade 1 and put him over a million [dollars] when he's showed up and battled in the races that he has all the time."
Asmussen said the next start is undetermined for Justin Phillip, but not the year-end goal. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 109 in the race, a career high.
"We'll try to figure out how to get from here to the Breeders' Cup Sprint after that race," he said. "We'll wait until he goes back to the track and go from there."
Justin Phillip was fifth, beaten four lengths, in last year's Sprint. He has a record of 5-3-2 from 15 career starts at the Sprint's six-furlong distance.
Asmussen also plans to take his time with Dunkin Bend, a 2-year-old Dunkirk colt who broke his maiden second time out on the dirt going six furlongs in 1:10.38 on August 3.
"He came out of it good," he said. "I thought he ran great. He's a nice horse with a lot of talent; let's see what he can do. Being a baby, we'll definitely wait until he goes back to the track and see how he responds, hopefully as fast as he went over there the first time."
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Authenticity, winner of the Grade 3, $200,000 84 Lumber Shuvee Handicap, breezed a half-mile in 51.36 seconds Monday morning in advance of her next scheduled start, the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign Invitational on August 25.
"I was kind of on the fence as to whether to work her two or three times in between races," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "She'd been getting a little more aggressive in her gallops, like she wanted to do something, so we just let her have an easy breeze on her own this morning and let her come back with a little more solid work."
Also on the worktab was last year's Juvenile Champion, Shanghai Bobby, who went three furlongs in 38.00 seconds in his second official work since being diagnosed with a slight pelvic stress fracture after his fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30 at Gulfstream Park.
"We're easing into it," said Pletcher, "and so far, so good. He jumped right back into it and is ready to go a half next week. Obviously, he's a very talented horse and it's nice to have him back and get him ready for a fall campaign."
The trainer reported that all went well as his quartet of juveniles breezed Monday for possible starts in next Sunday's stakes. Stopchargingmaria was caught in 49.40 seconds for a half-mile and Untapable in 49.98 for the Grade 2 Adirondack, with Danza and Corfu clocked in 1:01.01 for five furlongs for the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.
"All the works went according to plan," he said. "We need to see how they all come out of it. We'll talk to the owners and make a decision, probably tomorrow."
Pletcher added that Caixa Eletronica, last of five in Sunday's Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt, emerged from the race in good order and could return to action at the Spa before the end of the meet.
"He actually was running well at the end; he just sort of lost contact with the field," he said. "We love him. Win, lose or draw, we love him."
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Off since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes in February at Gulfstream Park, Majestic Hussar made a sharp return to the races Sunday, winning a $35,000 optional claimer and running six furlongs in 1:09.41.
The race earned Majestic Hussar, a 3-year-old son of Majestic Warrior, a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 98 and put trainer Eddie Kenneally in the mind to run him in the Grade 1, $500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop at seven furlongs on August 24.
"He ran real well; I was happy with this," said Kenneally, who trains Majestic Hussar for Joseph Witek. "He won his maiden first time out at Saratoga at seven furlongs. He's the type of horse that will make you excited. He had minor issues, a knee issue, mostly baby stuff. He needed a break right after that Fountain of Youth [won by subsequent Kentucky Derby winner Orb]. He ran hard that day and needed a break, and he got it."
Majestic Hussar has now won three of six starts. On January 19, he defeated subsequent Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy Stakes winner Palace Malice by 2 ¼ lengths in a seven-furlong allowance race.
"He's very straightforward, very good mentally," Kenneally said. "He's pretty push-button, a laid-back horse."
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Local trainer Chad Brown enjoyed a three-win day at his hometown track on Sunday, including a pair of impressive first-timers in Calm Pacific and La Reine Bourbon.
A 3-year-old Amerman Racing homebred out of Stormy Atlantic, Calm Pacific got shuffled near the back of a 10-horse field before moving into contention at the top of the stretch and drawing away to a three-quarter length victory in 1:35.73 for a mile on the inner turf.
"He was very impressive," said Brown of Calm Pacific, who was overlooked by bettors at 11-1. "He got stopped a couple different times during the race and still came with a run. He showed a lot of talent for a first-time starter. I was very pleased to see that kind of effort first time out. We're thrilled about it. It's taken him a while to get to the races. He's had his share of issues, but he's a nice horse. He had shown at times in the morning that he could be real good, but to go over there in the afternoon and put it together is really good to see."
Brown completed the early daily double when La Reine Bourbon, a juvenile daughter of champion turfer Leroidesanimaux, came through an opening on the inside and sprinted clear to a 2 ¼-length win at odds of 6-1. She ran 1 1/16 miles on the Mellon turf course in 1:42.36.
"She ran really well," Brown said. "It's pretty impressive for a baby to go through a hole like that and really burst away. I was very pleased to see that. We thought well enough of her to enter her, and she was ready to run. She trained well enough, but you never know who has what and how she stacks up with the other horses in the race. It looked like a tough race on paper. There were a lot of fancy pedigrees and good connections behind them. We're just thrilled she showed up and ran the race that she did."
Brown indicated that La Reine Bourbon could make her next start at Saratoga in the $100,000 P.G. Johnson for 2-year-old fillies on the grass on August 28, while Calm Pacific is likely to return in allowance company.
Looking ahead, Brown said that Big Blue Kitten, winner of the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes last year, could make his Saratoga return in the Grade 1, $600,000 Sword Dancer Invitational on August 17.
A 5-year-old son of Kitten's Joy owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Big Blue Kitten earned his first Grade 1 win in his previous start, the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park on July 6.
"He's probable for the Sword Dancer," Brown said. "I'm more likely to get firmer ground here. He came out of the race well. He actually trained prior to the United Nations at Saratoga. He's been here right along, before and after the race. He likes it up here, and he's training well."
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Trainer David Jacobson has a reputation for good luck at the claiming box, and he struck again Monday when he plucked winner Road Agent out of the third race for $25,000.
Sixteen other trainers put in claims for Road Agent, a subject of fevered interest this year, and Jacobson won the "shake" for the 3-year-old colt, which he had lost at the claiming box in his prior start July 20 at Saratoga.
In that race, 12 trainers tried to bring home Road Agent, and Jamie Ness won the shake for Midwest Thoroughbreds.
"Obviously, the claiming has been very busy right now," said Eric Friedman, a New York Racing Association entry clerk in the racing office who also handles claims and overnight stakes. "We've had a lot of multiple horse shakes. Yesterday, for Road Agent, it was 17 ways."
When Road Agent left Jacobson's barn July 20 in the 12-way shake, the runner-up in the race that day, Velvet Cap, had 18 slips submitted for him and went to trainer Richard Schosberg.
That tied for the biggest shake Friedman had ever seen.
Coincidentally, the other 18-way shake horse, a gelding named Itsagoodtendollars, ran in the sixth race Monday, about 1 ½ hours after Road Agent.
Who won the 18-way shake for Itsagoodtendollars back in January 2012? David Jacobson.
"It's great," the trainer said. "Everyone's active and wants to buy horses. Eighteen is unusual and 17 is unusual, but all the owners are up here, and everyone loves the action, and the best horses in the country are here right now in these barns."
When trainers want to claim horses, they drop a slip in the box at the front desk of the racing office. Friedman and company then go through them to make sure everyone's eligible and, later, the trainers congregate in the office for the shake.
The claim slips are laid out on the counter, and Friedman writes a number on each one. Pills with corresponding numbers are dropped into a shaker, which is shaken, and whoever's number is pulled out wins the horse.
The August 3 claims report for Saratoga showed 95 horses had changed hands since opening day, July 19, for a total of $2,817,500. Jacobson, who led the meet in claims last year, has been one of the top players, purchasing 11 horses and losing nine. His biggest claim this meet was for Cease from the barn of Al Stall on July 29 for $100,000.
"Jacobson somehow has a knack for winning shakes because he's involved in a lot of them," Friedman said. "People sit here and cry, 'That's the 10th horse in a row that I was in on and haven't won,' but when there's eight or nine other people in on it, it's hard to win a shake. It's all luck, basically."
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Patricia Moseley's Palace Dreams will attempt to extend her winning streak to three and pick up her first stakes victory when she competes in the Statue of Liberty division of the New York Stallion Series on Thursday. The Statue of Liberty is a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies who are eligible for the NYSS.
Trained by David Duggan, Palace Dreams broke her maiden going seven furlongs in June at Belmont in her second start. She captured her two-turn debut when she cleared the first allowance condition in a 1 1/16-mile turf race on July 20 at the Spa. In that race, the daughter of Freud set the pace under jockey Jose Ortiz and ran away in the stretch en route to a 4 ¾-length triumph.
Palace Dreams drew post position 2 and will once again have the services of Jose Ortiz.
The Statute of Liberty attracted the top three finishers of the NYSS Cupecoy's Joy, a seven-furlong turf race on June 30 at Belmont. In the Cupecoy's Joy, Frosty Bay rallied from sixth to win by a length. Image of Noon held second by a head over Fantastic Eyes.
The field also includes Adriatic Dream, Maxana, Kelli Got Frosty, Jerusalem Stone, Sus Annmaries Gold, John's Mariah, and Lisalisalee.
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