- The G3 Northern Dancer BC featured a couple of one-time Derby hopefuls going in the opposite direction. High Cotton was always under the radar for Todd Pletcher, whose Derby hopes rested mainly with others such as Bluegrass Cat. He ended his two-year old season with a second to Private Vow in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and some had the latter right at the top of their list of Derby prospects (though this observer always felt that he had only proven to be the best of the second tier....I just had to get that in, right?). Here he was making his first start since his 15th place Derby finish. High Cotton exited the Trail after the Arkansas Derby, the second of two extremely ugly running lines he’d posted as a three-year old, but he had excuses in both. At Oaklawn, according to Pletcher, “He got annihilated at the start and came back all cut up.” [Louisville Courier-Journal]
The two both went off at 3-2 (with High Cotton the slight choice), and Private Vow, after setting the pace with High Cotton stalking him all the way, still looked strong midway through the stretch after setting a moderate pace. But he weakened suddenly inside the eighth pole, and ended up in last. His rider Shaun Bridgmohan seemed puzzled: "I have no answers for what happened at the end.....He was running the whole way, and I don't know what happened."
As for High Cotton, he followed up his win in the Sir Barton on Preakness day with his first graded stakes win, and could follow in the footsteps of Pletcher’s Flower Alley, who developed into a division leader after last year's Triple Crown. He’s a son of Dixie Union, who had a pretty good day, as his daughter Nothing But Fun took second to Tour D’Or in the G1 Phipps at Belmont. He’s out of an AP Indy mare who is a half sister to the BC Juvenile Filly winner and champion Storm Song. High Cotton is inbred 4x3 to Seattle Slew, and also has inbreeding to Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector.
- A thrilling finish between a couple of other horses making their first starts since the Derby, as Point Determined (Point Given) finally prevailed over AP Warrior after the latter refused to cede and may even have stuck his nose back in front after being passed at the eighth pole. The interesting aspect of this race was that, approaching the final turn on the backstretch, AP Warrior seemed to be well in hand as Victor Espinoza was busy on Point Determined. Vic Stauffer noted that AP Warrior was “traveling comfortably and smartly,” while Point Determined was being “asked for everything he’s got leaving the backstretch.” Usually not a good sign, but then again, we’ve heard before that Point Determined is a lethargic sort, as Bob Baffert confirmed.
"This horse, he's hard to ride. He's very lazy, you got to force it out of him. He's like riding a bicycle with a rusty chain. He's tough to ride. He made the lead there, and he was sort of like not tired really, but that's his demeanor.And speaking of his dad, it was the long-awaited first graded stakes win for the Preakness/Belmont/Haskell/Travers winner....and when will we ever be able to describe a horse again in that way?
"If he had his dad's attitude, we could have been relaxed there watching him come home. But he's like Silver Charm, you know, you gotta' force it out of him. He's tough, though. That's a big step up. But A.P. Warrior, when he runs his race, he's a really good horse." [Bloodhorse]
- Well, the party is apparently over at the Cal Racing site. Only races won in California are currently available for viewing....so I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did!