A Rivalry Worth Watching
A RIVALRY WORTH WATCHING
With the left eye on the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes for three-year-olds and up going 7 furlongs on Belmont’s Widener turf course and the right eye on the monitor above me where in a matter of moments, the horses ranked 1-2 in the NTRA poll, Harve De Grace and Blind Luck, who just happen to be female, would renew their rivalry for American Thoroughbred supremacy at that quaint racetrack in Stanton, Delaware.
Yes, rivalry. Here’s my rule on rivalries: If horses meet at least four times with each horse splitting those four decisions, you have a rivalry. I will broach no argument on this. But first the Jaipur.
By the time I looked up, there was Yield Bogey on a comfortable early lead. He had the lead last time, too, in the G3 Poker, opening six lengths unintentionally despite moderate fractions over the “good” ground.
He lasted for the place, a length ahead of Right One, who was the Jaipur favorite but could not hold off Courageous Cat, who parlayed that score into a G1 victory in the Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.
The Jaipur was supposed to come down to these two and it did. The last sixteenth of a mile was very exciting. Yield Bogey was hanging tough, but bobbled a few times as the wire approached, and it might have cost him the win.
But take nothing away from Right One, who was ridden so confidently but was left with so much to do by Javier Castellano. In midstretch, it appeared he would blow by, but he needed to surge again in he were to win. He did, and he did.
And what a preamble for the G2 Delaware Handicap which, after Saturday’s running, deserves to be upgraded. Although, unless Harve De Grace and Blind Luck show up again as 5-year-olds, the storied fixture probable wouldn’t deserve that honor. But, I digress.
The Delaware Handicap five left the starting gate with Harve De Grace settling comfortably into third behind reasonable fractions going 10 furlongs, after having broken out of hand, Ramon Dominguez, who already had won two undercard stakes, forced to steady and right his mount before reaching the first turn.
With Life At Ten setting the pace under a pull while stalked an overmatched Thundering Emilia, Dominguez kept his filly in the garden spot while Garrett Gomez kept an eye on Dominguez and Harve De Grace from fourth, racing a bit closer to the early pace than is her custom.
As the field entered the far turn, longshot Thundering Emilia had had enough, Dominguez sensing this and began to make his move. Within a matter of strides, he was up alongside the pacesetter who once again offered no resistance when challenged.
Gomez, apparently sensing this, probably moved earlier than he wanted as well. Harve De Grace opened a lead soon after straightening away and by this time Blind Luck was in full stride.
She had come 3,000 miles, and there would be one more eighth of a mile to go. It is rare when a horse race lives up to its billing. This one did, and then some.
For an instant approaching the sixteenth pole, it appeared Blind Luck would roll on by. But Harve De Grace has a stranglehold on class and Dominguez had some fire left in his mount’s tank.
Harve De Grace resurged and the fillies found themselves in what really was a titanic struggle. Blind Luck then resurged and the two fillies matched strides all the way to the finish. In these instances, the momentum of the outside closer usually gets the nod in the end. This time would be no different.
And so, by definition, there was one “winner” and one “loser,” but that’s only a technicality.
Both fillies were winners on the day, even if the order of finish in next week’s NTRA will be reversed; Blind Luck enjoying the distinction of being known as “the best horse in America.” At least until these two terrific mares meet again.
Personal Ensign, anyone?
by John Pricci
On the New York worktab
At Saratoga on Sunday, Grade 1 hero SIDNEY'S CANDY (Candy Ride [Arg]) turned five panels in :59.39 over the fast main track. Since being nipped by a nose in the May 28 American H. (G2), the four-year-old was sold privately and transferred to Todd Pletcher. He could make his debut for WinStar Farm and Argentina's Rubio B Stable in the August 6 Whitney H. (G1) at Saratoga.
Grade 3 star STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) sped the same distance in the exact same time for Pletcher in advance of the July 30 Jim Dandy (G2).
BUSTER'S READY (More Than Ready), an easy 4 1/4-length winner of the Mother Goose S. (G1), breezed four furlongs in :48.87. She is slated to compete in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) on July 23 for Pletcher.
Stablemate and New Orleans H. (G2) king MISSION IMPAZIBLE (Unbridled's Song) sped a bullet five furlongs in :59.28. The gray four-year-old just missed by a neck when second in the Stephen Foster H. (G1) most recently.
Illinois Derby (G3) scorer JOE VANN (Silver Deputy), third in the Matt Winn S. (G3) last out, covered five-eighths in 1:00.74.
Four-time stakes winner and classic-placed JACKSON BEND (Hear No Evil) drilled a half-mile in :47.95 on the fast Oklahoma training track. He rejoined Nick Zito following his third in the Memorial Day H. at Calder for Stanley Gold.
Grade 3 vixen SEEKING THE TITLE (Seeking the Gold), runner-up in against optional claiming rivals last out, logged five furlongs in 1:01.90.
French highweight and multiple Group 1 star STACELITA (Fr) (Monsun), third against the boys in the United Nations S. (G1) last out, breezed four furlongs on the firm inner turf at Belmont in :49.25.
Multiple Grade 1 winner GET STORMY (Stormy Atlantic), third in the Monmouth S. (G3) most recently, turned five-eighths in 1:02.06 on the grass.
Multiple Grade 1 hero WINCHESTER (Theatrical [Ire]) worked five grassy furlongs in 1:03.63 in advance of his seasonal reappearance in Arlington Park's Stars and Stripes S. (G3) on Saturday. The Christophe Clement trainee, out of action since winding up 11th in the Hong Kong Vase (HK-G1), was sidelined by a splint injury.
Once-beaten WINTER MEMORIES (El Prado [Ire]) stepped six furlongs on the green in 1:15.87. Heroine of the Sands Point S. (G2) and Appalachian S. (G3) so far this campaign, the James Toner filly is penciled in for the July 27 Lake George S. (G2) at Saratoga.
Grade 2 victor GRASSY (El Prado [Ire]), second by a neck in the Singspiel S. (Can-G3), clocked five panels on the green in 1:01.74.
Grade 3 veteran SAL THE BARBER (Alphabet Soup), sixth by just 1 3/4 lengths in the Monmouth S., negotiated five furlongs on the turf in 1:03.60.
Gallorette H. (G3) runner-up DESERT SAGE (GB) (Selkirk) toured four grassy furlongs in :49.25.
Grade 1 scorer J P'S GUSTO (Successful Appeal), a dominant 6 3/4-length winner of the Red Legend S. in mid-June, breezed four furlongs in :48.31 on Belmont Park's fast main track.
JERSEY TOWN (Speightstown), unraced since taking the Cigar Mile H. (G1) last November, motored three-quarters in 1:14.08.
Multiple Grade 2 star TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini), sidelined by a suspensory injury after finishing third in the April 3 Florida Derby (G1), traveled five-eighths in 1:01.90.
Multiple Group 3 victress ZAGORA (Fr) (Green Tune), a near-miss second in the New York S. (G2), took a half-mile spin in :48.56.
Multiple Grade 1-placed stakes winner DRIVEN BY SUCCESS (Precise End), unraced since finishing fifth in the General George H. (G2), posted three panels in :37.10.
Sands Point S. (G2) second CELESTIAL KITTEN (Kitten's Joy) got four furlongs in :48.56.
Stakes hero RULE BY NIGHT (Malibu Moon), third to Trappe Shot (Tapit) and D'Funnybone (D'wildcat) in the Waldoboro S., reeled off five furlongs in a bullet :59.47.
Grade 2-placed stakes victor UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN (Limehouse), last seen running fifth before being placed 12th in the 2010 Belmont S. (G1), sped a half in :47.56 on the fast dirt training track.
German Group 3-placed RUBBER DUCK (Ger) (Big Shuffle), successful in a valuable sales race at Bremen last out, finished up five panels in 1:03.03.
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