Jim Barnes, an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, flew in from California Saturday night to observe the workout.
Baffert trains the daughter of Ghostzapper for his wife, Jill (Natalie J. Baffert). Contested will enter the Mother Goose, 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies, off four straight open-length victories, including a 4 ¾-length score in the Grade 3 Eight Belles on May 4 at Churchill Downs prior to her romp in the Acorn.
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Trainer Tom Albertrani hopes a different pace scenario will help Zo Impressive, second to Contested in the Acorn, turn the tables when she competes in the Mother Goose.
In the Acorn, Contested led by three lengths at the first call as Zo Impressive settled in third, 5 ½ lengths behind the eventual winner. Zo Impressive dropped back to fourth a half-mile into the race, then made a wide rally into second, ultimately finishing five lengths behind the winner.
“In the Acorn nobody really went with Contested,” said Albertrani, who trains Zo Impressive for Live Oak Plantation. “I was thinking [Aubby K] might go with her, but we found ourselves up close. We wanted to take back a little. A different scenario might help us where there might be a little more pressure on the front runners.”
Zo Impressive has never finished outside the exacta in four starts, having opened her career with a pair of victories this winter at Gulfstream Park and finishing second to Grace Hall in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks in March prior to the Acorn.
On Saturday, Zo Impressive breezed five furlongs in 1:02.15 at Belmont.
Albertrani added that he has pointed Godolphin Racing’s Buffum, an eight-length winner of an optional claimer on Memorial Day, toward the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap on July 7. Buffum, a 4-year-old, seeks his first graded stakes win, having finished fifth in the 2010 Grade 2 Remsen and fourth in the 2011 Grade 3 Bay Shore.
“He’s had some bumps in the road over his career, but right now he’s doing really well. Couldn’t be better,” said Albertrani. “I look forward to getting him back on track. His last race was very impressive. It took time for him to mature. His last race certainly showed he could be a very nice older horse this year.”
Buffum posted a 59.57 five-furlong breeze on Saturday at Belmont.
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Disposablepleasure was confirmed by Todd Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy for the Mother Goose following her 49.49 four-furlong breeze on Saturday at Belmont.
Winner of the Grade 2 Demoiselle in November at Aqueduct, Disposablepleasure will attempt to win her first Grade 1 in the Mother Goose. In three starts so far in 2012, the Glencrest Farm color-bearer has finished fourth in the Grade 2 Davona Dale in February at Gulfstream Park, third in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in March, and second in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on May 18 at Pimlico.
“She came out of the Black-Eyed Susan in good order and is training forwardly,” said McCarthy.
Broadway’s Alibi, also under consideration for the Mother Goose for Pletcher and owner E. Paul Robsham Stables, did not breeze as planned on Sunday.
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Saturday was a big night for Bill Mott, as he watched last year’s champion 3-year-old filly Royal Delta romp in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs followed closely by Ron the Greek’s narrow victory in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap. Sunday morning, it was back to business at Belmont Park, where the hall of fame trainer sent out last year’s Cigar Mile winner To Honor and Serve for a half-mile breeze in 48.33.
“I’m very happy with the way he went, and he’s a possibility for the Suburban,” Mott said of the Bernardini colt, who last time out finished third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap behind Shackleford and Caleb’s Posse.
The Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race worth $350,000, is set for July 7 at Belmont Park and could attract two other sons of Bernardini - last year’s Jim Dandy and Travers hero Stay Thirsty as well as the promising Godolphin Racing colt Buffum.
Mott also reflected briefly on yesterday’s victories by Royal Delta (eight-length winner) and Ron the Greek (victorious by a head).
“It was exciting just because she was so dominant,” he said of Royal Delta, who last year won Grade 1 races in the TVG Alabama at Saratoga and Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Churchill Downs.
Ron the Greek, meanwhile, could make an appearance in New York later this year in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park this fall. Winner of the Santa Anita Handicap earlier this year, the son of Full Mandate also finished second in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic and the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in 2012.
“Right now, we’re pointing for the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup and maybe something before, but we don’t know yet,” Mott said. “That’s the plan right now. Hopefully, if he’s healthy, three more races this year.”
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Summer Front emerged from his game victory in Saturday’s Grade 3 Hill Prince in good order, trainer Christophe Clement reported Sunday morning.
“As of now, everything is good,” Clement said. “We are enjoying the win. Obviously he’s a nice horse, to win that way, three strides and being boxed in. That’s what good horses do. I was very impressed by that. He came back OK, a little bit stiff, but not bad. I have not called Mr. Moore yet [of Waterford Stable], who is the owner, but we’ll have to think about the next race.”
Clement continued to praise Ramon Dominguez’s cool-headed ride aboard Summer Front in yesterday’s race. Trapped behind horses through most of the stretch, Dominguez angled the son of War Front outward with a sixteenth of a mile to go, and the horse bounded swiftly by the front runners to get up by a half length.
“We all watch Ramon ride every day, so we know [his style],” Clement said. “Yesterday Ramon never panicked, never tried to force anything, he was just so patient. So Ramon’s ride, plus the horse’s ability, it was great to watch.”
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The Irish-bred filly Dealbata, one of a number of European imports in the care of trainer Chad Brown, picked up her first U.S. stakes victory yesterday in her first stateside start, taking the Mohegan Sky overnight stakes by a length over a talented field.
“She ran really well yesterday,” Brown said. “It was a nice race for her to get started and we’ll kind of see where to go from here. I’ll run her in a graded stakes somewhere. There were some nice horses in the race yesterday for a listed stake. She hadn’t run in six months – I don’t think it was her best race actually, because she probably could use the race – but she ran really well and she’ll probably move forward.”
Bubbly Jane, a two-time Group 1 winner in her native Brazil who has won two stakes in this country and is graded stakes-placed in three more, finished second in the Mohegan Sky, followed by the British-bred Federation, who is also graded stakes-placed in the U.S. Check the Label, winner of 2010’s Grade 1 Garden City and three other graded races, finished fifth yesterday.
“I might look at the Matchmaker [Grade 3, 1 1/8 miles on turf at Monmouth Park on July 29] for Dealbata. We’ll kind of look everywhere, but I might look that direction first, since I probably already have something for the Diana [Grade 1, $600,000, 1 1/8 miles on turf at Saratoga Race Course on July 28] …maybe Zagora or Banimpire, one of those two, most likely. We’ll nominate this one, too, and just see how things are going, but it really wasn’t my plan to throw her into a Grade 1 right away. She could develop that way though.”
Brown and owner Martin Schwartz won last year’s edition of the Diana with French-bred Zagora, who has gone on to win a trio of Grade 3 races since, most recently taking Pimlico’s Gallorette Handicap on May 19. Schwartz also campaigns Dealbata, and another Irish filly, Banimpire, a five-time Group stakes winner in Europe who has yet to start in the U.S. Brown said Sunday that Banimpire, a 4-year-old daughter of Holy Roman Emperor was under consideration for the Grade 2, $200,000 New York Stakes, 1 ¼ miles over Belmont’s turf course on June 30.
“It’s a strong division,” Brown said. “Especially on the East Coast; seems to be the best turf fillies and mares around. If you’re going to win a Grade 1 on the East Coast with a turf filly this year, you’re going to have to earn it.”
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New York-based rider John Velazquez, who last weekend won Belmont Park’s marquee race for the second time when he guided Union Rags to victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, will miss an unspecified amount of time after breaking his right collarbone in a spill Saturday night at Churchill Downs during the running of the ninth race.
Velazquez’s wife Leona was en route to Louisville Sunday afternoon and confirmed that John remained hospitalized at Norton Audobon Hospital in Louisville, Ky. where he was awaiting further evaluation from doctors to determine a course of treatment for the injury.
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Boys At Tosconova, originally the 7-5 morning-line favorite for Sunday’s $90,000 Lemon Drop Kid overnight stakes, was scratched and taken to Dr. Larry Bramlage for evaluation, trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. said.
“I just didn’t feel like he was ready to run a big race,” said Dutrow.
Owned by Jay Em Ess Stable et al., Boys At Tosconova won the 2010 Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful and most recently was second behind To Honor and Serve in the Grade 3 Westchester.