- Last year’s BC Distaff winner Ashado looks to bounce back in Saturday’s Beldame, one of the five grade 1s on the card at Belmont, and the first leg of a $500K Pick Four. She ran 4th as the heavy chalk in the Personal Ensign. Unfortunately, Shadow Cast, the upset winner of that race, who was scheduled to be part of an extremely deep Beldame field, suffered a career ending injury working out on Tuesday. Trainer Neil Howard said, "She's got a couple of tears in the upper third of the tendon, which spells retirement.” [Daily Racing Form] Man, things can turn around so quickly in this game...generally for the worse, so it seems.
Still, Ashado will face stiff competition from Dream of Summer, Happy Ticket, Island Sand, Society Selection, and Sweet Symphony. Happy Ticket's trainer Andy Leggio would have preferred that Ashado stay on the sidelines, and not just because of her ability. "We were planning to ride John Velazquez if Ashado didn't go in the race....But since she is in the race, and Velazquez is committed to ride her, we've decided to go with Victor Espinoza." [Shreveport Times]
Sweet Symphony will be making her first start against older fillies after winning the G1 Alabama. This seems like an extremely tough task given the quality of the field. But listen to Jerry Bailey, who generally speaks plainly and honestly about what he thinks of his mounts' chances: "She hasn't been a product of things going her own way.....Her wins have been legitimate; things haven't necessarily gone her own way, and she doesn't need things to go her own way.'' [DRF]
- Like Sweet Symphony, Shakespeare is 4 for 4 for trainer Bill Mott, and on Saturday he’ll face the difficult task of stretching out to a mile and a half in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. But of Shakespeare, Bailey says that he "sends chills down my spine because I haven't got the best of him yet.” And who’s to argue with a guy who’s 10 for 20 at this Belmont meet? Mott, who had a frustrating Saratoga meet but has 11 winners out of 25 runners at Belmont, seems a bit more reserved, noting that Shakespeare "has to go an additional three furlongs than he has ever been before."
"I’m confident that he’s a very good horse, but I think that the mile and a half is something that he has to try to prove that he can do. We’ve tried horses in the past that appeared able to get the trip, but the last eighth of a mile might get them in the end. I’d feel very confident in saying that he’d be a very top quality horse at a mile and a quarter, but let’s just see how he does this weekend and then we’ll know if we have a horse for the Breeders’ Cup." [Thoroughbred Times]- Forget about Sun King training up to the BC Classic, he’s joining what’s turning out to be a pretty interesting cast for the Jockey Club Gold Cup. While he, Flower Alley and Roman Ruler will take on older horses for the first time in the race, the remnants of the tattered 3 yo colt division will split up into two graded stakes against their own age group. A maiden no more after winning at Saratoga, Nolan’s Cat will run in the (not so) Super Derby for a whopping $750,000 purse. Lukas’ A.P Arrow is also a go, and a definite money burning candidate. Don’t look now, but a good performance could mean that he’ll clutter the field in the BC Classic. "He has to earn his way," said Lukas. "If he was to have a good, strong showing on Saturday, we would look in that direction." [DRF] Lukas just seems to have less and less credibility with every passing week, and his idea of a "good, strong showing" may differ from the rest of the racing universe. West Virginia Derby winner Real Dandy, Smokescreen, Desert Breeze and The Daddy are also in town for the race. [Shreveport Times]
And the Grade 3 Pegasus will be contested on opening night at the Meadowlands Friday. With a relatively meager $250,000 purse, the race is expected to draw only four starters: Park Avenue Ball, Magna Graduate, Andromeda's Hero, and Network.
- Racing is cancelled at Suffolk Downs on Wednesday due to the fact that "the future of Thoroughbred racing in New England and specifically at Suffolk Downs is at stake." [Thoroughbred Times] It has to be one of the most unusual circumstances for canceling a race card ever, but it’s a sign of the times, as the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Consumer Protection conducts a hearing on the slot machines needed to save Suffolk Downs. Jessica Chapel is attending the hearings so check out Railbird for her first-hand report.