Saturday, July 05 2008
FIRST FLIGHT RECAP
ANY LIMIT REWARDS OWNER’S FAITH WITH FIRST FLIGHT VICTORY
By Francis LaBelle Jr.
Even with all of his experience and rightful place as America’s greatest living Thoroughbred trainer, Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens can be wrong.
He was certainly wrong about multiple-stakes winner Any Limit, who he felt would not be the same after suffering a bizarre injury last year. Jerkens suggested to owner Joseph V. Shields Jr. that she be retired. Shields felt she should run as a 5-year-old.
TOM FOOL RECAP
LUCKY ISLAND RUNS WINS STREAK TO FOUR
By Francis LaBelle Jr.
Lucky Island’s development as one of the nation’s top sprinters continued Friday afternoon at Belmont Park as Shadwell Stable’s 4-year-old Argentina-bred ran away from four rivals and easily won the 34th edition of the Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap for three-year-olds and up at seven furlongs.
The co-feature on an Independence Day card at Belmont – Any Limit won the Grade 2 First Flight one race earlier -- the Tom Fool became Lucky Island’s fourth straight victory and fifth in six starts. Getting a great jump at the start under jockey Alan Garcia, Lucky Island kept a length ahead of Tasteyville on the muddy track through splits of 22.84; 45.37 and 1:09.58.
Friday, July 04 2008
INDIAN BLESSING SEEKS TO REBOUND IN PRIORESS
Trainer Bob Baffert is rarely at a loss for words, and never more so when it comes to talking about Indian Blessing.
“We’re just glad we have her,” said Baffert of last year’s 2-year-old filly champion. “She’s nice, she’s sweet, she’s a beautiful filly, she’s so consistent. We really enjoy her. And what I’d also like to say about her is …”
Baffert laughed and stopped himself.
“Well, actually, her resume says it all.”
Thursday, July 03 2008
SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR ANY LIMIT IN FIRST FLIGHT ‘CAP
When Any Limit launched her 2007 campaign with a pair of graded stakes victories and a good second at Gulfstream Park, the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint seemed a reasonable goal for the homebred daughter of Limit Out. But a freakish injury suffered during an otherwise routine morning gallop brought her year to a standstill, and it wasn’t until 11 months later, in May, that she was able to return to the races.
“We think she stepped on a shoe, and it cut right through the bandage,” said her Hall of Fame trainer, H. Allen Jerkens. “For some reason, it took a really long time to heal it up. That’s why she was out for so long. I never saw anything like it before.”
LUCKY ISLAND IS NOBODY’S FOOL IN TOM FOOL
It is not hard for a top horseman to spot a top horse, but even trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was pleasantly surprised when Lucky Island jumped up on May 10 to win the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap here at Belmont Park
“It was a big step up going from a `two other than’ into a race like that,” McLaughlin said. “It was a really big test. But he got an A-plus on it and passed with flying colors. He proved he belonged.”
Monday, June 30 2008
BELMONT PARK NOTES, SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2008
Friday is the Fourth of July, and Belmont Park will present a Party at the Park card, with a first race post time of 3 p.m. Coupons will be given out beginning at 1 p.m. for a free Belmont Park cooler bag with each paid admission, while supplies last.
The Independence Day card will feature two stakes races, the 34th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap for three-year-olds and up at seven furlongs and the 31st running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Top Flight Handicap for fillies and mares, 3 and up, also at seven furlongs.
Saturday, June 28 2008
`BABY’ RACES BRING PREVIEW OF FUTURE STARS
Less than a few months into a Thoroughbred’s juvenile campaign, it is difficult to tell which ones will turn out to be future champions. But a pair of 2-year-old races with rich histories Sunday afternoon at Belmont Park could provide a clue or two.
The first stakes for two-year-old colts in New York, the 116th edition of the $100,000 Tremont, which will be run as the fourth race, is included on the resumes of such equine stars as Gulch, Alydar, Buckpasser and Hail to Reason. Past winners of the $100,000 Astoria, which will be run for the 102nd time, include Meadow Star, Twilight Ridge, Dearly Precious, and First Flight.
Thursday, June 26 2008
BELMONT PARK NOTES, Wednesday, June 25, 2008
According to statistics supplied by Equibase, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux is approaching 5,000 career wins. Through Tuesday, he had 4,991 victories.
Desormeaux, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness this year aboard Big Brown, was named on four mounts today at Belmont Park today. He also picked up a mount aboard Beboblues Art in the fourth race, as jockey Eibar Coa is not riding today.
Coa is still recovering from a sore back and bruised ribs he suffered in a fall at Belmont Park on Friday. That fall cost him losing mounts on El Sultry Sun at Colonial Downs on Saturday and Jungle Brew in Sunday’s Queen’s Plate at Woodbine.
Monday, June 23 2008
ROAD TRIP PAYS OFF FOR TIN CUP CHALICE IN MIKE LEE
Tin Cup Chalice, making his first start outside of Finger Lakes, lead at all calls Sunday afternoon and won the 20th running of the $109,700 Mike Lee for New York-bred three-year-olds at seven furlongs at Belmont Park by a length and a half over even-money favorite Groomedforvictory.
A gelded son of Crusader Sword, Tin Cup Chalice is now unbeaten in five starts, and the Mike Lee was, by far, his most impressive victory. Not only was it his first time on a new track, but it was also the first time he raced beyond six furlongs.
Neither these new challenges, nor the crowd of 6,129, did not seem to bother him.
Sunday, June 22 2008
MAURALAKANA WINS THIRD STRAIGHT, BUT IT DOESN’T COME EASY
As the 3-5 choice of 7,088 fans at Belmont Park on Saturday afternoon, Robert Scarborough’s Mauralakana was supposed to win the 65th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 New York Stakes for fillies and mares at a mile and a quarter on the inner turf course.
And so she did.
The 5-year-old French-bred mare tracked easily behind Tejida, Dynaforce and Archstone, comfortably rating on the inside through a pace of 24.34, 49.61 and 1:13.86 with the rail out nine feet on the firm course.
As they reached the quarter-pole Archstone back up, creating room for Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeax to tip Mauralakana outside, where she could show off her turn of foot and end the race.
Saturday, June 21 2008
UNBEATEN TIN CUP CHALICE TAKES STEP UP IN MIKE LEE
Although owner/trainer Michael LeCesse has traveled around in his horse racing career, his roots are about five minutes from Finger Lakes Race track in upstate New York. He doesn’t venture too far too often, but LeCesse has been at Belmont Park for several days now, preparing undefeated Tin Cup Chalice for Sunday’s $100,000-added Mike Lee for New York-bred three-year-olds at seven furlongs.
The Mike Lee is the first leg of the OTB’s Big Apple Triple, and any horse that can win the Mike Lee, the $150,000-added New York Derby at a mile and a sixteenth at Finger Lakes on July 12 and Saratoga’s $150,000-added Albany Handicap at nine furlongs on August 20 will receive a $250,000 bonus from the New York State Breeding & Racing Program.