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AT BELMONT: DWYER STAKES

Trainer Angel Penna Jr. believes that when Cool Blue Red Hot puts it all together he can be a significant player in the 3-year-old division. While Penna thinks his horse’s time may be later in the summer, he hopes to get a better line on him in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.

The Dwyer, run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, drew a field of seven, none of whom were on the Triple Crown trail. Adios Charlie, who won the Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct in April, is the only stakes winner in the field.

Cool Blue Red Hot, a son of Harlan’s Holiday, has run two good races at this meet already, including a solid first-level allowance victory at the Dwyer distance here May 19.

“He’s a horse that is improving,” Penna said. “I don’t think we still have [gotten] the best out of him, he’s still coming along. He’ll be a better horse probably in August. You get to a point where you have to test them a little. That’s what we’re doing without going to the acid test of a Haskell or a Travers. It’s not an easy race, but it’s not an overpowering race. Whatever happens on Saturday, you’ll know more or less where you stand.”

Penna said that Cool Blue Red Hot lost it mentally in south Florida, where he ran a distant second to Soldat in an allowance race in January and then finished fifth in another allowance event in February. Since returning to New York, Cool Blue Red Hot has shown signs of improvement.

“He’s getting better and better; he’s a classy horse,” Penna said. “He has the talent, all things are not together yet. When he gets to that point, I’m sure he’s going to be a tough sucker.”

John Velazquez rides Cool Blue Red Hot from post 6.

Rajiv Maragh, who rode Cool Blue Red Hot earlier in the year, was committed to Adios Charlie, who won the Grade 2 Jerome in April and who was beaten a head by Alternation in the Grade 2 Peter Pan in May. Trainer Stanley Hough was looking at the Pegasus at Monmouth Park for the colt, but opted to keep him in New York.

Adios Charlie figures to be prominent early from his outside post.

“He has good natural speed, so you can do whatever you want,” Maragh said.

Dominus, a son of Smart Strike, could play out as the main speed of the race. He won a seven-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita in March and then was part of a hot early pace in the Grade 3 Derby Trial in which he conceded a 1 1/2-length lead inside the final furlong, getting beat a head by Machen.

Dominus, owned by Stonestreet Stables, George Bolton, and Spendthrift Farm and trained by Steve Asmussen, will be ridden from post 2 by Julien Leparoux.

Malibu Glow, Harlan’s Hello, Tech Fall, and Rocking Out complete the field. Rocking Out would be coming back just three days after running second in a 1 1/16-mile second-level allowance race.

by David Grening
from drf.com

AT MONMOUTH: UNITED NATIONS STAKES

This time, the United Nations Stakes truly lives up to its name.

The premier turf event of the Monmouth Park season drew an intriguing international lineup Saturday. The Grade 1, $750,000 stakes at 1 3/8 miles attracted a field of 10 that includes runners bred in Ireland, France, and Chile. There’s even a New Jersey-bred in the lineup, General Perfect, to boot.

The United Nations tops a 12-race card that also features the Grade 3, $200,000 Salvator Mile. First post is 12:50 p.m.

The U.N. is a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In challenge race. The winner secures an automatic berth in the $3 million BC Turf in November at Churchill Downs.

That incentive helped lure a diverse set of runners, including two from France – Chinchon and Stacelita.

by Mike Farrell
from drf.com

AT HOLLYWOOD: SHOEMAKER MILE

Courageous Cat makes his second career start in Southern California in Saturday’s $300,000 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park. A performance anything near his first start on this circuit, back in fall 2009, will make the multiple stakes winner nearly impossible to beat.

Courageous Cat finished second to Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita in November 2009, leading in the final furlong before finishing a half-length behind arguably the greatest female turf miler in history.

The competition in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile -- a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Mile -- though worthy of a race at that level, is hardly as fearsome. The biggest concern for trainer Bill Mott is Courageous Cat’s schedule. The 5-year-old horse made his 2011 debut with a sharp win in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park on June 10.

“We’re coming back on short rest, and we all know the danger of that if you run back too quickly,” Mott said. “He seems to have bounced out of the race well. He breezed nicely this past weekend. He seems to be feeling good for this race.”

Mott trains Courageous Cat for breeders Marty and Pam Wygod, California residents. Since the BC Mile, Courageous Cat has won 2 of 4 starts. A win in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February 2010 was followed a month later by a ninth in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in Dubai. Courageous Cat had one additional start last year, finishing third in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Churchill Downs last October.

Courageous Cat is as good now as he was in fall 2009, Mott says.

“I don’t think he’s lost any of that,” Mott said. “The big risk is coming back in three weeks. We’d prefer to have another week or two, sure, but this is how it came up.”

The race has added value through the Breeders’ Cup challenge program, offering a fees-paid berth to the winner for the BC Mile at Churchill Downs, if the horse is nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program.

Of the seven runners, there are six stakes winners in the Shoemaker, including Ashtar, Blue Chagall, Caracortado, Liberian Freighter, and Victor’s Cry. Smokey Lonesome has placed in two stakes.

Victor’s Cry won the 2010 Shoemaker. This year’s race will be his first start since a fifth in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free on March 26.

Caracortado won the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita in January, but has lost his last three starts, including a second by a head in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf at Santa Anita in March and a sixth, by three-quarters of a length, in the Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes on the main track at Churchill Downs on May 6.

Caracortado is a closer and should have a pace to pursue with Liberian Freighter, the winner of three graded stakes in the last year, having drawn the outside in a field of seven and likely to set the pace. Trainer Mike Machowsky thinks the eight-week break between the Alysheba and Shoemaker Mile may leave Caracortado closer to the front under jockey Joe Talamo than in past starts.

“His last two works have been super,” Machowsky said. “He’s kind of a strange horse. You can’t really put him into the race too much. I think him being a fresh horse will be a big difference. He could be dragging Joe a little bit.”

by Steve Andersen
from drf.com

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