- Jockey Andrew Lakeman is in critical condition at North Shore hospital after a spill at Belmont on Friday. Reports from the hospital said that Lakeman was facing life-threatening injuries, and the next 3-4 days will be critical. [NY Daily News] Lakeman exercises horses for Allen Jerkens, and has won seven races out of 181 as a jockey.
At first, Lakeman was reported to have a broken nose and possible head injuries. Sketchy reports last evening from the hospital, which cannot release patient information, said he was heading into the operating room and on life support.However, life goes on at Belmont today as always, as the holiday weekend kicks off. I really intended to do all nine races by last night, but y'know, things just don't always work out, so I'll have to settle for this, and I know it's already too late for many people to read it anyway. But here goes.
Little is known about Lakeman.....he lives in a dorm on the Belmont Park backstretch, and on his personnel card in the jocks room, his next-of-kin is listed simply as "mother." [NY Post]
Race 1 - Sir Jackie was claimed for $50K by Patrick Reynolds, was badly beaten for 75K after a slow start, and now drops for $17.5. Hello. And beware of River Mountain Rd, dropping for A. Dutrow; he's lost six in a row at odds ranging from 6-5 to 7-2, and his last race particularly sucked at a similar route to this. I'd love to bet against both of these but I don't like anyone else. Pass.
Race 2 - Ah, this is more like it. Validation was well-bet in his debut for R. Dutrow, broke badly and finished well for a distant third to repeat winner Holy Canyon and the ridiculously named The Duke of Stanco, who just missed here last week. Thank goodness the latter wasn't a Derby horse with that name, though he could have had a TV show named after him. Secret Entry is the other half of the entry, with C. Velasquez named on both, each also entered at Monmouth. This one stretches out after a close loss in a sprint, and either one could be favored on his own. Joppa Flat's has the best Beyer in the field, achieved when finishing second to a Pletcher favorite in his last at this distance. Charlie Caliente stretches out after a poor try at six furlongs; his prior at seven was good and I think he'll like the stretch to a mile. Perusal is 4-1 morning for Shug; this son of Dynaformer out of a Danzig half-sister to Coronado's Quest ran well on Poly in his last and may prefer grass.
Race 3 - Trippi's Storm was supported at the mutuels when moving up sharply in class, and exploded home under a highly confident ride by M R Cruz; Larry Collmus noted that he was still in hand when still 7th midway round the turn, and responded with a whoosh when finally asked for run. Castellano is back and he's a possible price play in a race in which all six runners have a shot; and trainer Stan Hough has won three of his last six. Sea of Trees ceded much ground to the winner when he dropped a half length decision in his first off a layoff and with a suitable drop in class. Lemon Law goes for Frankel, who's mired in a 1 for 27 slump at Hollywood (make that 2 for 28 after Double Trouble took the third on Friday night). But that makes him five for 15 everywhere else. Lemon Law loves to mix it up - he's been involved in the photo in four straight races decided by a nose. He's lost the last two, but will probably be close again.
Race 4 - The insanely hot Christophe Clement - another winner on Friday, his 6th from 17 starters - unveils Jets Only, a son of the late A.P Jet out of a Dynaformer mare who won't have to be much to beat the ones who have started in this state-bred affair. His sire has an 11% mark with first-timers. He has a steady but unspectacular series of breezes going back to February. Mr. Bibbs (Wheelaway/Unbridled) debuts for Todd Beattie, a high percentage trainer on the mid-Atlantic circuit with a 34% mark with first-time starters. He's three for 14 when shipping here, two of those wins with his nice stakes winner Fabulous Strike.
Race 6 - Robert Klesaris is two-for-five at the meeting thus far, and he's hot at Del Park too. Wave the Baton makes his first start since November, and showed good turf form last year; a somewhat similar pattern to Taming the Tiger, a prior winner this meet for the barn albeit off a much longer layoff. Karakorum Tuxedo was favored in his first turf start in his 40th race - what took them so long? He had the lead between calls in the stretch, but succumbed late to the same Taming the Tiger; shorten up in distance here may help. Multiple Choice rallied wide around a big field for third, and had a solid second at this class and distance in May of last year here. He also won the 2004 Jaipur Stakes.
Race 7 - A lot of speed here, [UPDATE: not so much now with both halves of the Dutrow entry scratched] and perhaps that will help Shone get into the winner's circle for Zito, 10-4-1-1 at the meeting, after burning a lot of money of late. I think you can excuse his last in the slop at Churchill, and this appears to be his best distance. First Defence returns for Frankel; in his last race last fall at Churchill, he ran a bang up second around two turns to Zanjero. He romped here in October at six furlongs against a field that has hardly distinguished itself since. He seems to want the lead and may not get it here. Grand Refer is one of the other speeds; he has some nice lines against NY-breds, but those were very weak fields and he'll have to step it up today.
And briefly, in the Sheepshead Bay, I'm standing against the probable favorite Honey Ryder. Just a feeling that she won't be at her best just a couple of months after her debacle in Dubai. We see some horses come back OK from that, and some not, and I'm leaning towards the latter with this one. But Pletcher also has Safari Queen in the race, and she is in top form this year. She hasn't beaten the best Grade 3 fields, but, aside from Honey Ryder, this one ain't so hot either. Factual Contender looks like possible lone speed, and a handy target for Safari Queen (or Honey Ryder if she's in the mood).
That's it, sorry for the late posting, but tell NYRA to take entries earlier like everybody else!!!
[UPDATE: One more thing before I go...in the 9th: Mark Hennig won two races on Friday, and starts Victory Assured here. He did save ground when rallying for third in his last, but showed good energy closing in 11 3/5. And the race looks like a good one: the winner, Hangingbyathread came back to run third in an open company allowance; the second place finisher ran an OK 4th in his next (albeit at 3-5), and the 4th place finisher, Manhattan Mack, won his subsequent start.]