Saturday, August 06, 2011
Move Over Ladies, Make Room for the Old Man
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, August 6, 2011--On the NTRA media conference call last Tuesday, trainer H. James Bond was asked how important it was for the third ranked horse in America to leapfrog the two terrific fillies in front of him, should Tizway win the storied Whitney on Saturday.
“It’s not who’s in front now, it’s who’s in front in November.” Well, for the time being anyway, Mr. Bond will have to settle for August, which I’m sure he doesn’t mind at all. The fall will have to take care of itself.
For Tizway, for Bond, for Rajiv Maragh, the Whitney could not have set up any better. Sitting comfortably behind a pace duel over a surface that might have been a little dull by post time for the Whitney.
Maragh took a long hold of his mount who simply cruised right along at his own pace, well within himself, as comfortable as any horse can be in a major Grade 1 at Saratoga.
It was a virtual re-run of his victory in the Met Mile, only this time there was a second turn and a much slower pace. But when Maragh was ready, three furlongs from home, he gave the six-year-old his cue.
By the time he reached the finish line in 1:52.43, the Metropolitan Handicap was three lengths in front of Suburban Handicap winner Flat Out, who made a strong rally up the fence, tipped into the 2-path, narrowed the margin slightly but was one-paced at the line behind a clear winner who appeared at once to be idling and tired.
With his victory in the Whitney, Tizway won his last two starts in Grade 1 company and became this country’s top ranked older horse. And that is a credit to owner William Clifton, who kept his horse running despite the infirmities which Bond handled with masterful patience. It’s not often these days when six-year-old Thoroughbreds win Grade 1s back to back.
"You don't find horses like this very often and sometimes it's a long time between drinks of water," Clifton said. "He's a six year old but he's running pretty darned good as a six year old."
“He’s the best miler in the country, and he’s the best older horse in the country,” said his trainer. “I’m as confident going a mile and a quarter as I as going a mile and an eighth coming here today.
S, then he’ll be going on to the Classic? “You know it,” Bond said. He will run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
Hardly a Test At All
After watching the Grade 1 Test Stakes two things became readily apparent: Turbulent Descent is the present class of the 3-year-old filly sprint division and Bob Baffert, trainer of Test second favorite American Lady, is only human after all.
Turbulent Descent made an absolute shambles of her seven Test rivals, comfortable sitting off a controlled pace set by Roman Treasure in fourth position with David Flores, who traveled here with the brilliant SoCal miss, biding his time.
That moment came as the fillies reached the three furlong pole. With Ramon Dominguez in the throes of trying to steal the race as he tried to pull the rug on the competition approaching the quarter pole, Flores had his filly in full stride while offering only the slightest encouragement.
Baffert's American Beauty, stalking from second, made a move toward the lead but floundered abruptly. She was not good at all, perhaps owing to a physical issue, shocking because the Hall of Famer has been shipping all over the country and winning with abandon.
Turbulent Descent’s momentum carried her up to the frontrunner and, after straightening away, with Flores applying only an intermittent left-handed encouragement, the favorite suddenly opened ground and the dance was over.
“She’ll take on any horse out there at this distance,” said her excited trainer, Mike Puype. “She was in deceleration at the finish. [This win is] huge. It puts her right at the top of the division. She’s the favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.”
“I just waited,” said Flores. There was nobody to worry about and around the half-mile I just [pointed her outside] and she started making a run. I just let her be herself.”
Yes Virginia, There Is No Carryover
Well, had there been a disqualification in the final race of the day, there would have been a little less than a million dollars awaiting bettors on the Sunday afternoon program in the form of a three-day carryover.
But the victory by Bound By Humor was allowed to stand and nine bettors, one on track, collected $86,701, less IRS withholding. Bettors spent $1.017 million chasing a $215,000 carryover, a trend that has held the entire meeting. The difficult multi-race wager has been very popular at the current stand.