Sunday Stakes Recap


Tar Heel Mom romps in Honorable Miss

Alex Rankin's TAR HEEL MOM (Flatter) was sent off the 9-5 favorite in Sunday's $150,000 Honorable Miss H. (G2) at Saratoga and ran to her odds when drawing off in the stretch to easily score by 5 3/4 lengths on the wire. With jockey Alex Solis aboard, the Stanley Hough trainee completed six furlongs on the good dirt in 1:10 2/5.

'She's a special mare. She tries so hard and it's a real thrill to have her. She's been so honest for us,' Hough said. 'I'd kind of like to keep her at three-quarters if I could, but we'll have to see (about the August 27 Ballerina [G1] going seven furlongs). Maybe. I just wanted to get by this one and see.'

Tar Heel Mom was quickest from the gate, but found plenty of company in the early going. Wild News (Forest Wildcat) and Beat the Blues (Great Pyramid [Ire]) had Tar Heel Mom sandwiched in between them, applying pressure while entering the backstretch, but Wild News quickly began backing up. Beat the Blues also let up a bit, leaving Tar Heel Mom in firm command while alone on the lead.

The ultra consistent mare ticked off splits of :22 2/5, :45 1/5 and :57 1/5 while extending her margin at each call. Solis showed her the whip in the stretch, but Tar Heel Mom pulled off basically under a hand ride to return $5.70, $3.40 and $2.50 to her faithful backers.

'She has been training so nice and sharp in the mornings,' Solis said. 'Today, she sat in that gate, and as soon as the doors opened, she was half a length in front. She was going real relaxed. I made sure I had a nice hold on her, and at the top of the stretch I let her go a little bit. She responded, I tapped her a couple of times, and she was strong.'

'I knew (the wet track) wouldn't bother her, so that was great, and the speed was holding,' Hough added. 'I just told Alex to get her out good, and play it by ear, and she went. I really thought (Wild News) would probably go to the lead and we'd lay just off of her. Obviously (Tar Heel Mom) did it on her own, so it worked out great.'

Beat the Blues, the 7-1 longest shot in the five-distaffer field, beat out 3-1 third pick Champagne d'Oro (Medaglia d'Oro) for second by 1 3/4 lengths. Irish Gypsy (Hennessy) followed in fourth by three parts of a length, while Wild News wound under a distant last.

Tar Heel Mom has finished off-the-board only five times in her career, and Sunday's win improved her record to 28-11-7-5 while boosting her lifetime earnings to $778,392. The dark bay mare opened her six-year-old season with a neck score in the Sugar Swirl S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park and would go on to take that venue's Harmony Lodge H. and Nany S. She entered the Honorable Miss off a pair of seconds in the My Juliet S. and the Sweet and Sassy S.

Tar Heel Mom now owns a total of seven stakes wins, including last year's Distaff H. (G2), and 10 black-type placings that contain the likes of the Vagrancy H. (G2), Inside Information S. (G2) and Hurricane Bertie S. (G3).

Bred in Kentucky by Upson Down Farm, Tar Heel Mom is out of the winning Sunny's Halo mare Perpetual Light, making her a half-sister to Grade 3 scorer and 2005 Preakness S. (G1) runner-up Scrappy T (Fit to Fight), an unnamed yearling filly by Tapit and a 2011 filly by Bluegrass Cat.

Perpetual Light is herself a half-sibling to multiple stakes victress Sarasa (Pass the Tab) and the stakes-placed Flash Camera (Ali Oop). This is the same female family as Grade 1 runner-up and stakes winner Speaking of Time (Gilded Time) as well as Grade 2-placed stakes vixen Beloved Bea (Personal Flag).

Creative Cause shows new dimension in Best Pal

Fifteen years after teaming up with the speedy Swiss Yodeler, owner Heinz Steinmann and trainer Mike Harrington sent out another unbeaten juvenile, CREATIVE CAUSE (Giant's Causeway), to capture Sunday's $150,000 Best Pal S. (G2) at Del Mar.

Unlike Swiss Yodeler, who always hinted at his distance limitations, Creative Cause has the pedigree and scope to progress over a route of ground, and the manner of his emphatic 1 3/4-length victory bodes well for the future. The son of Grade 1-winning millionaire Dream of Summer (Siberian Summer) argued the pace before drawing off in his career debut, but employed rating tactics in this stakes premiere, and proved that he was just as effective as a stalker.

Bet down to 4-5 favoritism off his stylish maiden win, Creative Cause relaxed beautifully beneath Rafael Bejarano and watched others sprint to the fore. I'll Have Another (Flower Alley) grabbed control from the rail, but a keyed-up Brigand (Flatter) dragged his way forward to press him through an opening quarter in :22 2/5. As the pair matched strides through a half-mile in :45, Creative Cause worked his way up into third.

Turning for home, I'll Have Another dispatched Brigand and began to pull away. But just when the early leader gained a brief respite, Creative Cause delivered his potent rally down the outside. The favorite barreled past with authority, reaching six furlongs in 1:09 2/5, and continued his momentum to finish 6 1/2 furlongs in a sprightly 1:15 3/5.

Creative Cause, who posted the fastest final time in the Best Pal since the track was converted from dirt to Polytrack in 2007, paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.10.

'Perfect trip -- I couldn't have asked for better,' Bejarano said. 'It set up just right for me. He gave me a big kick, but I got after him and let him gallop out strong. He's a good horse. And I think the farther the better for him.'

I'll Have Another was easily best of the rest by 3 1/4 lengths. Mighty Monsoon (Forestry) closed from last for third. Brigand faded to fourth, one length ahead of his stablemate from the Bob Baffert barn, Night Tide (Malibu Moon). Galex (Flatter) brought up the rear, and Curfew Tower (City Zip) was scratched.

Now two-for-two, Creative Cause has bankrolled $123,000. He turned heads with his 4 3/4-length maiden romp at Hollywood Park on July 16, when he sizzled five furlongs in :56 4/5 and earned a gaudy 107 BRIS Speed rating.

'The horse ran exactly the race I wanted to see him run,' Harrington said of the Best Pal. 'He had a lot of (conditioning) background before I ran him the first time, so I wasn't worried about him bouncing.

'This is really special for Mr. Steinmann. He spent a lot of money for three horses. I might have a couple better than this one, but you won't see them for a while. Maybe this fall, maybe next year. We bought them all for three-year-olds and we're in no hurry with any of them.'

Bred by James C. Weigel in Kentucky, Creative Cause brought $135,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. His dam, Dream of Summer, was a six-time stakes winner who garnered such major events as the Apple Blossom H. (G1), A Gleam Invitational H. (G2) and Rancho Bernardo H. (G3), and she was twice runner-up in the Santa Margarita Invitational H. (G1). Dream of Summer has since produced an unnamed yearling filly by Distorted Humor and a 2011 filly by Tiznow.

Creative Cause aims to use the September 7 Del Mar Futurity (G1) as a stepping stone to the November 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

'If all goes well we'll run him in the (Del Mar) Futurity,' Harrington said. 'It's a 'Win and You're In' race (for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile), so why wouldn't you run him in it?'



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