2017 Pacific Classic Arrogate Songbird

Arrogate Prepares For 2017 Pacific Classic

The combination of Arrogate’s brutal fourt place finish in the San Diego Handicap, along with Gun Runner’s recent win in The Whitney, has many people wondering just who the best racehorse in the country actually is. It’s a typical debate between talent and production. To regain his footing in the discussion, Arrogate needs a top performance in the 2017 Pacific Classic.

Arrogate went back to work with his typical team in order to prepare for a race that should boast a very competitive field. Official splits for his recent drills included fractions of :25 1/5, :37 1/5, :48 2/5, 1:00 3/5, and 1:12 3/5. He was timed on the gallop out in 1:38 1/5. Everything seems to be pointed in the right direction.

“It was a serious work,” commented trainer Bob Baffert. “He didn’t need much encouragement. He’s showing no signs . He’s moving forward. I’ve seen a big difference in him since that last race. He’s back to his old self again.” This is good news for the horse that will undoubtedly enter the 2017 Pacific Classic as the favorite.

Jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden Arrogate for the brunt of his competitive career, also said that Arrogate, “Looked good. He galloped out strong.”

The field for the 2017 Pacific Classic is expected to include Accelerate, who handed Arrogate his first defeat in the 2017 San Diego Handicap. Collected and Curlin Road are also expected to fill the gates.

But the most anticipated rival to Arrogate will be Songbird, who has picked up two wins this year in the 2017 Ogden Phipps and the 2017 Delaware Handicap. This would be the second time in two years that the Pacific Classic featured a battle between the top male and female dirt runners in the world. Last year, California Chrome made short work of Beholder.

A month ago, this wouldn’t have even been up for debate. Songbird is an astounding talent, but Arrogate feels like he comes from another planet. However, there is a dent in that undefeated armor now and Arrogate’s strongest rivals will feel like there’s a chance to overtake the 2016 Horse of the Year. To be fair, Songbird didn’t look untoucachable in the Delaware as she barely outlasted Martini Glass for the win.

The 2017 Pacific Classic will run on Saturday, August 19th out of Del Mar Racetrack, the same venue as the 2017 Breeders’ Cup. We’ll have more coverage in the next two weeks on the big race.

2017 Jim Dandy

Champs Stunned in 2017 Jim Dandy

The 2017 Jim Dandy was sold to fans as a showdown between Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing. For the first part of the exciting race, that’s how the whole thing played out with those two champions taking the field out early. What unfolded at Saratoga was completely unexpected.

Always Dreaming went out as the even money favorite and held the early lead, hitting and early quarter-mile fraction of :24.13. Cloud Computing was right on his tail in both the early stages of the 2017 Jim Dandy and the betting board as the 6/5 second choice. Right behind those two was Pavel, an 8/1 outside shot, and Giuseppe The Great who was a distant 14/1 on the board. Way in the back was Good Samaritan, another contender with an 8/1 mark, who seemed to be way outclassed early on.

Suddenly, as they rounded the final corner, the whole field bunched together and Good Samaritan hit a gear nobody knew he had to stream around the outside. The performance seemed to shrink Cloud Computing and Always Dreaming, who fell back right next to Pavel and Giuseppe The Great as the final four ended in a bunch. Good Samaritan won handedly in an absolute shocker.

The 2017 Jim Dandy Stakes was the first appearence on dirt for Good Samaritan, who had previously been tested as a turf runner with unfavorably inconsistent results. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he ran,” said trainer Bill Mott. “It was a terrific race for him. The pace was a little bit slower than I thought it would be. I was a little concerned when they were going down the middle of the backside and they hung up the slow fractions. I was a little concerned about that. They did start to pick it up leaving the half-mile pole. He ran into a very slow pace and ran well.”

This victory has now thrust Good Samaritan in to the thick of a very competitive three-year-old class that now includes 2017 Haskell winner Girvin, the three Triple Crown victors and a host of other colts entering the fray on route to the world championships. What Good Samaritan does with this new found momentum will be noted – hopefully – in the upcoming Travers Stakes which will have a stacked field.

 

2017 Diana Stakes results

Lady Eli Scores in 2017 Diana Stakes

The 2017 Diana Stakes was never going to be a surefire play on Lady Eli. Antonoe and a slew of other stiff competitors were trying to upset the would-be champion, and the field pushed the eventual winner to her absolute limits. It was an absolute scorcher of a race which not only proved Lady Eli’s quality, but also legitimized two other turf females in the process.

Quidura led through much of the race as a 7/1 outside shot with 7/2 Dickinson stalking right behind. My Impression also tested the top ranks, sitting in third with heavily touted Antonoe sitting in fourth at 5/2. The lead pack hit fractions of :23.59, :47.51 and 1:11.46. Lady Eli was right behind as the 4/5 favorite…and wouldn’t dissapoint.

Stampeding around the outside to match the frenzied pace set by Quidura, Lady Eli broke around the edge and tried to pull away. Surprisingly, Quidura wasn’t having it, and matched the favorite stride for stride down a hellacious stretch. Antonoe attempted to break through on the rail but jockey Javier Castellano seemed to let up on the reigns as they approached the wire, knowing he didn’t have the room or the pace to win out. Lady Eli would stretch out to barely win as Quidura came in second.

Trainer Chad Brown was obviously elated that she not only rose to the challenge, but overcame the downright gritty efforts of Quidura. “Today was one of her greatest races to date. Maybe her best,” Brown told the media. “Giving eight pounds to the horse she ran down late in the stretch after breaking through the gate, going a little wide. She just overcame everything. Today she proved she’s one of the all-time greats. It was her determination. Proud she didn’t hang there in the end. She’s always drove past another horse, as long as she can see them.”

The news on Antonoe, a hopeful breakout star in the 2017 Diana Stakes, didn’t seem optimistic and even Brown said that seeing a competior let up is, “Never a good sign”. Recent news has confirmed that Antonoe was played safe by Castellano which will end up being a smart decision. It’s obvious she has the speed to compete. Whether she has the will remains to be seen.

With the 2017 Diana Stakes win, Lady Eli paid out $3.90, $2.70, and $2.10. Quidura was worth $5.10 and $3.10 and5-2 Antonoe brought $2.60.

This win is what Lady Eli needed after losing to Queens Trust in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. It’s a reminder that she is not in a league of her own. Quidura will most definitely have the attention of both the oddsmakers and horse players, while Antonoe will certainly be a keen horse to watch given her curious finish in the 2017 Diana Stakes. The top flight competition Europe will be bound for Del Mar and the world championships, but runs like these will have the American turf fillies (and mares) poised to make it a serious competition

2017 Indiana Derby results

Irap Crushes 2017 Indiana Derby

Going off as a 7/5 favorite in the 2017 Indiana Derby, Irap had a lot to prove. He had cruised to a win in the Ohio Derby just a month ago, but the stink of his 18th place finish in the Kentucky Derby was still fresh in people’s minds. There was simply a lot of ground to recover before cappers and players were firmly behind him once again.

Consider the mission accomplished…for now.

Wild Shot took the field out as the pace setter with opening half-mile fractions of :23.71 and :47.71 but dropped well out of the lead as the pack hit the home stretch. Jockey Mario Gutierrez made a definitive pass at that point and Irap did the rest, dusting the remainder of the field to a closing time of 1:42.21 over the 1 1/8th mile distance.

With a 2017 Indiana Derby win, trainer Doug O’Neill answered positively as to whether or not you have to consider the colt a contender. “I think you have to,” O’Neill replied. “He’s getting better with each race. We’ve learned so much from him. We just couldn’t be more happy than we are now. And Mario rode just a perfect race. We’re just very, very happy.”

Gutierrez shared that same feeling by addressing Irap’s development since a rough run in the first leg of this year’s Triple Crown. “He’s definitely grown up since then,” Gutierrez noted. “He was very unlucky in that race and he was a bit immature back then. He has matured a lot and he showed that today.”

Irap delivered$4.80, $3.20 and $2.60 with the 2017 Indiana Derby win while Coloneldarktemper was worth $9.60 and $5.80 in second. Untrapped finished third for the second time to Irap and was worth $2.80.

The next destination for Irap would logically be the Travers Stakes where he’s expected to run up against the top three-year-old colts in the country. With the 2017 Indiana Derby and 2017 Ohio Derby providing some much needed momentum, Irap could certainly add to the $1.3 million he’s already earned while improving his prestige wildly.

2017 Delaware Handicap preview

Songbird Preps for 2017 Delaware Handicap

The 2017 Delaware Handicap isn’t pretending to be much of a competition. After all, Songbird is coming in a heavy 1/5 favorite so the oddsmakers and handicappers are calling this is a done deal. Such is life when a competitor is as proven as Songbird, who remains 12-1-0 in 13 starts.

Most of us won’t be interested in what Songbird does until she goes toe-to-toe with the best female runners in the world in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where she placed second to Beholder by a nose in arguably the most exhilarating finish from last season. She has since rebounded by decimating a field at the 2017 Ogden Phipps that included noted challengers like Paid Up Subscriber.

The Fox Hill Farms superstar won’t face a significantly threatening batch of rivals in the 2017 Delaware Handicap either. Weep No More is a distant second choice at 6/1, considering that Songbird is 1/5, and is coming off a harrowing sixth place finish in the Fleur de Lis Stakes. It’s not far off her regular results. Weep No More also finished fifth in the Matron Stakes.

There’s potential for a big upset, and if you’re looking for that play than look no further than Martini Stakes. Obviously this is a stretch. Songbird is a no-brainer, but Martini Stakes is coming off a second place finish int he Obeah Stakes and is a home grown product with experience on this track. The only time Songbird has ventured away from California to compete is when she crushed the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Miss Mo Kelly, Line Of Best Fit and Home In round out the 2017 Delaware Handicap as longshots.

This one’s a wrap, folks. But are you really going to miss a chance to see the best female racehorse in the world? I didn’t think so. Anytime you get to see Songbird, it’s a damn treat.

2017 Delaware Handicap – Saturday, July 15th at Delaware Park
1 1/4 Miles – 3+ Year Old Fillies – $750,000

PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY Wg OD
1 Miss Mo Kelly Kellyn Gorder Carol Cedeno 111 15-1
2 Martini Glass Keith Nations Jose Ferrer 115 8-1
3 Weep No More George Arnold II Joel Rosario 111 6-1
4 Line of Best Fit Keiron Magee TBA 112 12-1
5 Songbird Jerry Hollendorfer Mike Smith 124 1/5
6 Hone In Victoria Oliver Tyler Gaffalione 111 15-1
2017 king edward results

Go Bro Upsets 2017 King Edward at 44/1

All of the major action was at Woodbine Racetrack over this past weekend. While Holy Helena dusted the boys in the marquee event known as the Queen’s Plate with odds, and Green Mask made short work of his rivals in the Highlander Stakes as the odds on preference, Go Bro wasn’t going to let all the favorites have the fun. The six-year-old stunned the 2017 King Edward field as a 44/1 longshot.

To be clear, Go Bro was never a consideration for handicappers and that’s largely because he almost never runs in stakes races. So when we say “upset” we damn well mean it. Nobody saw this coming.

“He broke sharp and I knew we were going slow, so I let him be there. It set up very good,” jockey Jesse Campbell said before echoing a strange sentiment about the race. “I say it all time—I’d rather be lucky than good. The race went our way and the horse showed up.”

The stunner was the first graded stakes victory for trainer Michael Keogh, who was last in the winner’s circle with Last Answer in the 2007 Nijinsky Stakes. It may have taken a decade to get back, but the 2017 King Edward stakes victory has to be just as sweet.

With the 2017 King Edward Stakes victory, Go Bro delivered a monsterous $91.30, $34.20, and $10.20 across the board. Hootenanny paid $8.20 and $4.70, and Tower of Texas was just $2.50 to show. Tower of Texas has to be the most disappointed after entering as the favorite.

It’s been a very modest career for Go Bro, who now holds a record of 4-6-3 over 20 starts and just $338,786 in career earnings. The 2017 King Edward Stakes win will likely end up being his career highlight, but it’ll be hard to ignore this tempting longshot when you see him on the board next. I’d rather bet on talent than luck, but if Jesse Campbell is back in the saddle then I might have to rethink my strategy.

2017 Ohio Derby results

Irap Victorious in 2017 Ohio Derby

Trainer Doug O’Neill’s Irap is back in the winner’s circle after a victory in the 2017 Ohio Derby. The three-year-old colt was last seen finishing a disappointing 18th in the Kentucky Derby but was able to best Girvin down the stretch this past weekend. The winning time was 1:50.48 over 1 1/8th miles.

Girvin was the heavy 4/5 favorite, but I had advised last week that his odds weren’t exactly trustworthy. The oddsmakers and handicappers alike had always overvalued the colt in my eyes. That didn’t stop Girvin from putting on a good show regardless.

Fast and Accurate took the team out as an 18/1 pace setter, but fell off immediately at the top of the stretch with Girvin stalking behind. Hinton and Vibe were a part of the front pack for the early stages but faded off equally as well. Game Over went with Girvin initially, but was left in the dust as the latter tore down the stretch with his trademark kick. He looked like the 2017 Ohio Derby winner up until the last portion of the stretch.

That’s when Irap made his move, bursting on the outside of Game Over and catching up with Girvin to provide an absolutely thrilling finish at the wire. It was completely indistinguishable to the naked eye, but video replay proved that Irap got the edge and won the 2017 Ohio Derby in the process.

Florent Leparoux was aboard Irap, and spoke about edging out the legendary Mike Smith who was riding Girvin. “He broke good and we had good position,” said Leparoux. “I was a little farther back in the first turn but I was right behind Mike Smith, and I knew that was the right horse to follow. He’s the kind of horse you have to ask pretty early, because he has that long, long stride, so I was able to get him going early and got there on time. I didn’t know that I’d won, it was so close.”

It was the rebound performance that O’Neill was looking for out of Irap and other supporters of him at the 2017 Ohio Derby window were fairly rewarded. Irap paid $7.60, $3, and $2.40 across the board

2017 Queen Anne Stakes Ribchester

Ribchester Dominant in 2017 Queen Anne

The 2017 Queen Anne Stakes kicked off a busy first day of action at the Royal Ascot Meet and saw 16 hopefuls take to the gates. But it was 4/5 favorite Ribchester who was unrelenting in his pursuit of victory in the Group 1 race. Godolphin Racing expects nothing but the best out of their elite talent, and that’s exactly what they got on this day.

The oddsmakers had designed the lines to be top heavy with Ribchester going off as a strong preference followed by 5/1 second choice Lightning Spear. However, Lightning Spear was poor in this effort and finished 9th overall. He gave way to Mutkayyef, who finished 2nd at 6/1, and 12/1 outside shot Deauville who is trained by Aiden O’Brien.

Jockey William Buick was aboard for the win and couldn’t say enough about how powerful Ribchester was over the one-mile turf challenge. “You’ve got to hand it to the horse, he’s an absolute jockey’s dream,” Buick stated. “It doesn’t get much better than this. This is the biggest week for our sport and to wear the royal blue here. We’re all working towards one goal. We’re all working to get to the winner’s enclosure. That’s what Sheikh Mohammed deserves.”

Trainer Richard Fahey also beamed at the four-year-old colt’s potential, saying that he has much more left to offer. “Look Ribchester is just an exceptional horse,” Fahey exclaimed. “He has to be the best horse I have ever trained,” winning trainer Richard Fahey said. He broke the track record here today and that’s not being disrespectful to the others, but he is just exceptional.

Fahey went on to say that the 2017 Queen Anne Stakes was just the beginning, and after conferring with his jockey, he knows where the end game for the season is. “William doesn’t feel that the tank is empty with him and that he is getting stronger the whole time. The Sussex Stakes is where he has to go really. I was always hoping that he would stay further but at the moment, I don’t need to go further.”

With the 2017 Queen Anne Stakes victory, Ribchester is now 5-3-3 in 12 starts and has posted back-to-back wins in Group 1 races.

Mastery retired

Potential Champion Mastery Retired

We’ll never really know what Mastery was capable of. The three-year-old colt has been retired to Clairborne Farms after suffering a condylar fracture in his front left leg back in March. Unfortunately, he just never recovered and will prepare for what promises to be a decent stud career.

Mastery is undefeated in four races having won the Bob Hope Stakes, Los Alamitos Futurity and the San Felipe Stakes in dominant fashion. The son of Candy Ride opened his career with a win in a maiden special weight in October 2016 as well. In total, Mastery has won $511,200 after being purchased for $425,000.

How good was this horse? Many considered him Bob Baffert’s best prospect in the 2017 Triple Crown. Mastery opened the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager as a 10/1 top choice and held those odds up until the final round, where concerns about his ability to compete after a fractured left leg arose in March following the San Felipe.

It’s a sour end to what could have been an incredible career and Baffert is still reeling from the sudden downturn in the undefeated colt’s career. “He was just starting to mature,” Baffert said. “I’m still sick about him getting hurt. It’s safe to say he was on the same path as American Pharoah, the way he was dominating his races.”

The 2017 San Felipe Stakes was where Mastery established the hype. He went off as a 4/5 favorite and dusted a field that included Iliad and Gormley. But after the race, jockey Mike Smith knew something was off and pulled him up after crossing the finish line. X-Rays proved that the jockey’s fears were well justified, and a recovery strategy was immediately put in place. Unfortunately, that not only involved surgery, it meant that Mastery wouldn’t be ready for the Kentucky Derby despite being one of the favorites.

This is truly part of the sport. Injuries happen at the most inopportune times, and can sometimes have tragic endings. It’s certainly a loss considering how sorely we’ve yearned for a true king of the colts this year and having the endorsement of a trainer like Baffert goes a long way in substantiating how talented Mastery actually was.

Mastery will retire undefeated and as a son of Candy Ride out of Steady Course, he is sure to have a strong life as a sire.

Lookin At Lee 2017 Belmont

Lookin At Lee Understated At Belmont

Lookin At Lee is ready for the 2017 Belmont Stakes, but not too many will be discussing him. That’s too bad because if the colt has proven anything, it’s that he can compete at the highest levels offered by this season’s three-year-old crop. After finishing second in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes, Lookin At Lee will be one of just two horses that will compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown this year.

That’s notably impressive for a horse that was a 20/1 longshot at Churchill Downs just five weeks ago.

Despite being the son of 2010 Preakness Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky, there was nothing to suggest that this particular contender was going to be…well…uh…a contender. His best effort was a third place run in the Arkansas Derby behind Classic Empire, who is the only other three-year-old to compete in all the Triple Crown legs this season.

Before that Lookin At Lee had posted sixth in the Rebel Stakes and third in the Southwest Stakes. Prior that? He ran fourth in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile which was won by Classic Empire.

All things considered, however, Lookin At Lee has the feeling of a horse that could randomly have his day making him a decent standalone play. At the very least he’s what I like to call a parlay stuffer. The Belmont Stakes is hard enough at a gargantuan 1 1/2 miles, so I like to invest in horses that like to compete. Covering the distance is one thing, but showing up to race is the real ticket.

“He came back great and I thought it went perfect,” said Toby Sheets, an assistant to head trainer Steven Asmussen. “He seems to really like Belmont. We got great weather this morning, so that always helps.”

It’s no doubt that the Belmont Stakes is a true gamble. The distance is simply agonizing. But Lookin At Lee being healthy enough to compete in the race after drilling well in the lead-up shows a lot of promise. There’s no way his connections would run him in this race given how hard the Triple Crown schedule is. Very rarely do owners and trainers push horses this hard when they don’t have anything at stake other than a win itself.

The 2017 Belmont Stakes field is taking shape and we’ll know who’s where on Wednesday. But it would be silly to overlook a hearty competitor like Lookin At Lee. With top-four finishers in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, he offers the type of consistency you like to see in a horse prior to the final leg of the Triple Crown. A win bet is hard to swallow considering that Classic Empire has shown the same resolve, but the Belmont makes mice out of the mighty. This very well could be the moment that Lookin At Lee has been waiting for.