And so it was that in the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Saratoga crowd was treated to not only one Grade 1 performance but two. Only one winner, though.
Plum Pretty, the Kentucky Oaks winner, a surprisingly strong favorite in the CCAO, was on the lead setting a solid pace, a pressured solid pace.
The Acorn winner stalked her from the outside; this was nine furlongs, not eight, a dry track, not a wet one.
It’s Tricky was up to the chore, but Plum Pretty made her work the hardest she ever has to win her second Grade 1 of the year, and now she’s in the hunt for a championship in a big way.
And the owners must have had a premonition. She had been campaigning for Darley Stable. Yesterday, she wore the Godolphin blue, winning one as a member of the varsity.
Sometimes It’s Tricky is just that. She can be her own worst enemy, obstreperous at times. But that's when she runs. She was quiet in Florida and never tried a step.
Yesterday she was a perfect lady until it was time to get her picture taken in the winners’ circle. So, just for good measure, she unceremoniously dumped jockey Eddie Castro, minutes after he rode the hair off the filly.
Castro was uninjured, except for his pride perhaps. He remounted, then he smiled for the camera. It was a good day’s work all around; trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, too.
It’s Tricky went the distance in 1:49.15, racehorse time, after sustaining her drive for a demanding three furlongs. Second favorite Delta Lady, winner of the Black Eyed Susan, checked in third.
Now it’s on to the Alabama, where Inglorious, the filly who beat the boys in the Queens Plate, will be waiting. All had better have their running shoes on. Again.
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It will be hot again this afternoon, for sure, but tomorrow there will be a break in the humidity. All this helps the contestants; the equines as well as the two legged jockeys and fans.
THEY'RE OFF, OVER THERE
Even in a European Group 1 on the turf, pace often will make the race. As the three-year-old Nathaniel, a John Gosden trainee, stole the march beneath the brilliant, young William Buick and held off Workforce who bore out badly in the late stages.
It is unlikely that the incident was the difference between victory and defeat, but it surely didn’t help. Workforce, of course, won the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a three-year-old of 2010.
THEY'RE OFF, OVER HERE
Don’t know what’s gotten into Deannaallen’skitten. She used to be a little one-paced, but not anymore. She came from the clouds to win her Belmont finale and she did the same in her first start at the Spa in 2011. Sadly, Rockettes Escapade took a bad step entering the first turn of the grass event, bore out badly on the second turn as well, and it was discovered that he suffered a condylar fracture of the right hind ankle and was euthanized.
Meanwhile, War Clan never really had a good chance. Racing 3, 4 and 5 wide, depending upon when you picked her up, she finished very willingly while never really having a chance to gain momentum, needed for winning on turf; bet back in similar spot.
All the chatter was about Repole-Pletcher’s How Do I Win in the debuting colt opened at 4-1 and remained the favorite throughout.
But second time starter Whinston took it to the newcomer in :44 4/5, winning the battle but losing the war when debuting Laurie’s Rocket picked up the pieces late. Whinston did very well running on for place.
There’s no gas like SoCal gas--and no one knows better than Bullet Bob. The main track has been kind to speed the first two days, however, SADDLERANCH was something else, after pressured fractions of 22.13 and 44.73, and kept going thru 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.82.
GLICKMAN, who steadied inside at the 5/8s, got through on the fence entering the stretch but I’m not sure he really enjoyed himself down there; take note.
The track might be speed favoring but that doesn’t mean make the top at all costs, which was the case with JUNGLE RAIN, who lasted for third after a sub-22 opening quarter gambit. David Cohen timed it just right with WISHINGONASTAR, a legitimate overlay at 11-1.
A WILD-HORSE FINISH
Get thee to a replay center, and please tell us if you've ever seen a horse finish faster than TAHOE LAKE in the grassy sixth--actually on any surface, any track, anywhere. Had he finished a nose in front of CAPITAL MARKET, skillfully rated by Javier Castellano, he would have stolen the photo from underneath, as his head was coming up as the two reached the line almost as a team. A remarkable finish. A horse to watch? Duh.
In the fifth, first-time starter DEPOSIT SLIP, also racing 8.5 furlongs on the turf, finished boldly and just missed catching DYNAFORTWO at 61-1; looking for routine improvement next time out.
TAKEOUT? WHAT TAKEOUT?
Most horseplayers suffered a blow for sanity yesterday when, despite a 26% takeout, bettors from around the country spent $337,235 chasing a $68,000 carryover.
More than expecting some different result, that must be the definition of insanity. But, too, it was a tribute to the second very contentious program offered at Spa 143.
With 0 minutes to go prior to the seventh race, when by last second bet-down R KING OF THE ROAD, which took advantage of inside position and a speedy surface, the were five co-favorites at 5-1.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horse close as fast as Tahoe Lake, but I’m certain I’ve never seen five 5-1 shots with zero on the clock ever. That’s the great thing about the game; you never know what’s coming!