Friday, August 07 2009


Saratoga Race Course Notes: Thursday, August 06, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Stonestreet Stable’s Rachel Alexandra was on the Oklahoma training track this morning for a gallop and will return to the work tab next week, most likely on Tuesday, said trainer Steve Asmussen.

“It will probably be Tuesday with (her last) race being on Sunday and the shipping,” he said. “It will be real light, like we always do the first time back. Then we’ll probably accelerate her to the following Monday. That’s what I thought this morning.





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NO CONFUSING MIXED UP IN SMITHWICK VICTORY


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – William Pape’s 10-year-old gelding Mixed Up rallied through the stretch after taking the final hurdle and went on to a half-length victory over Preemptive Strike in Thursday’s Grade 1, $105,723 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase at Saratoga Race Course.

The win gave jockey Danielle Hodsdon a unique riding double at the Spa as well as giving Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard a second Grade 1 victory at the meet, having saddled Forever Together to win the August 1 Diana.





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Thursday, August 06 2009


COCOA BEACH COMES BACK STRONG IN DE LA ROSE


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Making her second start off a long layoff in Wednesday’s $76,850 De La Rose Stakes, Godolphin Stable’s Cocoa Beach (CHI), a two-time Grade 1 winner in 2008, proved she’s ready to make a comeback.

Sent off as the heavy favorite along with coupled entry Skylighter in the field of nine, Cocoa Beach settled off of early fractions of 23.14 and 45.92 set by Lucky Copy. Four wide into the turn, the 5-year-old mare challenged My Baby Baby in the stretch to finish first by a neck.





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CAT MOVES SET TO POUNCE IN TEST


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Anthony Dutrow is off to a great start at Saratoga Race Course.

Saturday, it could get even better.

That’s when Dutrow, who by the end of the first week of racing had sent out seven starters and come back with three wins, one second and three third-place finishes, saddles undefeated Cat Moves against seven other 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 1, $300,000 Test Stakes.





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COMMENTATOR RUNS FOR HISTORY IN GRADE I WHITNEY


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Even at the advanced age of 8, Tracy Farmer’s chestnut gelding Commentator remains one of the fastest and most exciting horses in racing. On Saturday he will attempt to carry his imposing speed into the history books as he seeks a record-tying third win in the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Saratoga Race Course.

If successful, the New York-bred son of Distorted Humor will join Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s Discovery (1934-36) and Bohemia Stables’ Kelso (1961, 1963, 1965) as the only three-time winners of the race in its 82-year history. Those two Hall of Fame horses are widely considered among the best thoroughbreds ever.





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SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Wednesday, August 5, 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard had no plans to run 6-year-old steeplechaser Sermon of Love in a flat race at Saratoga Race Course, expecting to save the Calvin Houghland-owned gelding for a jump race at the end of the meet.

But Danielle Hodsdon, a top jump rider who gallops champion mare Forever Together for Sheppard, however, had other ideas, and they paid off with a victory in the fourth race on Monday.





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INCENTIVE PROGRAM BOOSTS FIELD SIZE, HANDLE, AND PURSE VALUES AT SARATOGA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The purse incentive program created to increase field size enriched 24 of the 60 races run (40 percent) during Week One of the 2009 Saratoga Race Course meet, and helped contribute to a 9.2 percent increase in betting interests and a five percent gain in on-track handle, according to The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA). Purse increases from incentives totaled $173,770, a 16.4 percent advance over the original purse values.

Announced by NYRA last month, the program employs several methods to increase purses based on the number of horses starting in a race. Dirt races with more than eight betting interests leaving the paddock receive 10 or 15 percent purse hikes, based on the conditions of the race. Races taken off the turf with eight or more betting interests leaving the paddock are boosted 20 percent. And, “per horse” increases are provided for dirt races at nine furlongs and longer (for each betting interest above six), and turf races longer than nine furlongs (for each betting interest above eight), with incremental values based on the class of the race.





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Wednesday, August 05 2009


SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Tuesday, August 4. 2009


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird arrived at Saratoga Race Course Tuesday morning to begin preparations for his next engagement, the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes on Saturday, Aug. 29.

Accompanied by three other horses from the stable of trainer Tim Ice, the chestnut son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone left New Jersey at 5:30 a.m., arriving shortly after 10 a.m.. After a short grazing session, he was settled into his stall in the stakes barn, just two doors down from Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who is also Shadwell Travers-bound.





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Tuesday, August 04 2009


QUALITY ROAD SMASHES TRACK RECORD IN AMSTERDAM RETURN


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – What began as a prep race for the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers evolved into a tour de force sprint as Edward Evans’ Quality Road returned from a four-month layoff Monday and smashed the 6½-furlong track record at Saratoga Race Course in winning the Grade 2 Amsterdam.

Ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Todd Pletcher, the bay 3-year-old son of Elusive Quality crossed the finish line 2¼ lengths in front of runner-up Capt. Candyman Can, stopping the clock in a blazing 1:13.53.





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MINE THAT BIRD ARRIVES AT SPA; SHADWELL TRAVERS NEXT


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – After a seven-hour ride from West Virginia, Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird arrived at Saratoga Race Course Monday afternoon to begin preparations for his next start, the 140th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Travers on Saturday, August 29.

With trainer Chip Woolley at the wheel, the trailer carrying the little gelding pulled into the barn area shortly after 3 p.m. After being unloaded to the clicking of dozens of camera shutters, Mine That Bird took several turns around the shedrow and then settled into a grazing session on the lawn outside his stall.





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SARATOGA RACE COURSE NOTES: Monday, August 3, 2009


Grade 2 Suburban Handicap winner Dry Martini came out of Sunday’s bullet work for the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney in good order, said assistant trainer Robin Smullen. In company with 3-year-old Just Ben, the 6-year-old gelding drilled five furlongs in 58.91, the fastest of 77 at the distance.

“It was perfect,” said Smullen. “We wanted a good work for Just Ben, and I told (Dry Martini’s exercise rider) to go in :59.”





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TRIUMPHANT RACHEL ALEXANDRA RETURNS TO SARATOGA


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Steve Asmussen stood with his family outside his barn at Saratoga Race Course on Monday morning and watched prized filly Rachel Alexandra walk off a van and into the first stall at 8:53 a.m.

One of Asmussen’s three sons, Darren, put a kid’s ball cap on his father’s head, and it perched atop his hair to comic effect.





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