- Got back a little while ago from watching the Macy’s fireworks display from our secret little spot on the Queens side which isn’t such a secret anymore. I didn’t see any of the races today, as I was out at a pretty incredible barbecue. Fireworks and a BBQ with the family; a pretty typical 4th of July I suppose. A bit of racing might have been nice too. I was a bit surprised to see that both Kitten’s Joy and Roman Ruler won in their returns. I was even more surprised to see that Flower Alley went off as the 8-5 favorite in the Dwyer, even though Pletcher always takes the money in big races it seems. Part of it also I think is the Kentucky Derby effect - it seems that horses with a Kentucky Derby running lines in the pp’s always get bet more than they should, even if the race was as slow as this year's was. Having said all that however, the horse obviously ran a big race in running second beaten just by a half, partially justifying the board action. It was 7 lengths further back to Proud Accolade in third, and then Mr. Congeniality, not ready for this kind. As for Roman Ruler, he won with the same closing style he displayed when he was at his best at 2, taking two Grade 2’s, and missing a neck to Declan’s Moon. So his connections are thinking big (and we wouldn’t want it any other way).
"Afleet Alex is a spectacular horse, and if our horse is right and ready, we'd love to take him on," Roman Ruler's co-owner David Shimmon said. "Afleet Alex is tremendous and he's proven himself as being tremendous. Hopefully, over the next couple of races our horse will also prove himself to be tremendous. Right now, we're getting there." [NY Times]Shimmon mentioned the Haskell and Travers as likely spots. Afleet Alex will have his first workout since the Belmont some time this week, according to Tim Ritchey. As for Bellamy Road, Zito said:
"He's galloping right ....Maybe we'll have him ready by the end of Saratoga. The Travers is out. It's too much of a long stretch to make that, a mile-and-a-quarter race with him just getting back now." [NYT]- Pletcher had another beaten favorite at Belmont Monday; in the 5th, his 3 yo Desert Breeze (Deputy Minister) was 3-5 in his first allowance try after breaking his maiden at 4-5. This did not look like a walkover on paper by any means, but Pletcher’s horses coming off a maiden win like that just get bet off the board. In retrospect, 3-1 was a great price on the winner Skagway (Seeking the Gold), who was coming off a maiden romp of his own for Shug McGaughey. Skagway has graded stakes winners for his first three dams - Magic of Life (British), Larida, and Kittiwake.
Michael Dickinson is another trainer whose horses often take a lot of money, and in the 6th, his Around View was sent off as the favorite despite the fact that his lone effort was at Philly Park and earned a slow Beyer while closing a bit for 3rd. He was stretching out here, but instead of trying to close, as most bettors probably assumed he would when they made him 8-5, jockey John Velasquez contested a quick pace, setting the race up for Lukas’ High Octane, an A.P. Indy half-brother to Grand Slam, winning his first race on his 10th try at 6-1.