- Sounds like TVG's Simon Bray has his 2007 Derby horse, at least for now. He was excited by the stretch run of Circular Quay, another impressive Pletcher juvenile, who took the G3 Bashford Manor at Churchill. Bray started talking about “three-year old classics” and “pedigree” and “ability to stretch out,” and you know exactly what he’s talking about. He’s rallied from way back after poor starts in each of his two races, both wins, and that always gets people excited. Including Demi O’Byrne, the racing manager for owner Michael Tabor, who said of the winner, "The excitement is, that being by Thunder Gulch, we could be here next spring if everything went great." [Louisville Courier-Journal] So here we go. Circular Quay is out of Grade 1 winner (Spinaway) Circle of Life (Belong to Me).
Pletcher just missed sweeping the two juvenile stakes on the day when Chagall got nailed late by Richwoman in the G3 Debutante; the last stakes winner for Steve Asmussen that I know of before his six month suspension starts today. Tabor is also one of the owners of Chagall, and unlike Circular Quay, who was bred by his wife, this one cost $825,000 this past February.
Successful Appeal is the sire of each of the first two finishers in the Debutante, but he was likely rooting for Chagall. Richwoman won the Cinderella Stakes earlier in the year, and thus remains his only stakes winner for 2006. Richwoman is from the female family of the million dollar earning mare Videogenic, who won more races, 20, than most horses even go to the post these days; and that was only yesterday, in the mid-80's!
- As for Asmussen, it seems as if he’s slinking away rather quietly. He’s taken responsibility for the drug positive in Louisiana that has led to the six month vacation while insisting that neither he nor anyone under his employ has any knowledge of what caused it. He was the leading trainer in North America for the last two years, and in any other sport, news like this about such a prominent figure would likely bring far more fanfare than the rather cursory attention it’s brought in this case. In fact, if you Google News “Steve Asmussen” today, you instead get a bunch of stories about the Rangers signing Brendan Shanahan, with a little note about Asmussen below (after the disturbing Barbaro stories) If our sport is playing second fiddle to hockey, that’s not a good sign. What it says about me that these are my two favorite sports, I can’t really say.
Asmussen also has a possible six-month suspension from a positive in New Mexico to deal with; I wonder if that would have to be served separately from this one?
- Lava Man is beat after his grueling effort in the Gold Cup.
"He's tired, but his legs were tight," said trainer Doug O'Neill, who has won the Gold Cup three times from only three starters. "He left some grain (in his feed tub). He put his body down yesterday."How often do you read anything other than “he ate up” from trainers? O’Neill said that the Pacific Classic is next, but added the qualifier “if he bounces back.” [SGV Tribune]
On the other hand, English Channel came out of his win in the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth quite well. He turned the tables on Cacique this time, which annoys me considering that I had him singled and touted all over the place in the Manhattan.
“He looked very good this morning," Pletcher said….. "He'll either go in the ($500,000, Grade I) Sword Dancer (at Saratoga on Aug. 12) or the Arlington Million. They're both on the same day so we'll play it by ear a little while and see how they're shaping up." [NY Daily News]-
Commentator is entered in the third at Belmont on Wednesday, a NY-bred stakes event.
Bluegrass Cat worked five furlongs in 1:00.42 (3/31) at Belmont this morning.
- After Market remained undefeated on the grass, and overall with his win over a small field in the G3 Lexington at Belmont on Sunday. He veered in sharply in the stretch, and Matt Carrothers on TVG already had him taken down; but a closer look revealed that he was already clear of To Sender. Bill Mott said:
(Jockey Cornelio Velasquez) hit him today and he went on, but when he went to hit him again, he ducked in. I think the horse was anticipating him hitting him. I would hate to put blinkers on him because he is a little rank already. I would like to go the Hall of Fame Stakes with him. I’m sure the owner will have some input. He’s also nominated to the Secretariat [Grade 1, $400,000, 3yo, 10 furlongs, turf, August 12, Arlington Park].” [NYRA]I discussed this one’s pedigree in this post, written after he won and paid $20 in his debut. He’s by Storm Cat, and a full brother to a $9.7 million yearling last September at Keeneland, which we’ve forgotten about now after The Green Monkey. His dam, the Grade 1 winner Tranquility Lake, is a half-sister to Benchmark, the sire of Brother Derek; and this is also the distaff family of the Belmont winner Cavaet.