- I had a really weird dream last night. Highland Cat won, which I suppose is pretty surreal in itself. But it was a harness race at the Meadowlands. And I recall the race rather vividly - starting from the one hole, he shot out for the lead and never looked back, paying $8.80 to win. He looked really cute pacing up a storm, and I was very excited. Not only had he found a place where he could win races and earn some good money, but he could run almost every week and I could go to see him race.
Cut to reality. Highland Cat is entered for a $16,000 tag in the 5th race at Colonial Downs on Saturday. He's drawn the rail, which is good because according to the track diagram, the one mile distance virtually starts on the turn. And he is clearly the Beyer standout in the field. He's trained by Ann Merryman, seven for 87 on the year, and is ridden by a familiar name from the past, Nick Santagata, off to a roaring start at the meeting with a record of 14-0-0-0. The purse is $15,000, so if he can get a win, and get claimed, it would be a bonanza of $25,000, and an end to writing checks to pay his bills as well as the ubiquitous and unspecified office and travel expense charges I see on the Castle Village statement. Where or how I'm going to see the race, I can't really say. TVG carries Colonial Downs, but probably not in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. There's no video on the Colonial Downs site; and their races are not offered on Cal Racing.
- Bobby Frankel had a good weekend in New York, as noted by David Grening in the Form. He won stakes with Sugar Swirl and Indian Flare, and came close to doing so with Ginger Punch, second to Take D'Tour in the Grade 1 Phipps, and First Word, second to longshot Gimme Credit in the overnight Notoriety Stakes.
Frankel also won the Grade 3 Eatontown at Monmouth with Karen's Caper, making her first start since a nose loss to Gorella in last fall's First Lady at Keeneland. (According to the Pedigree Query site, Gorella was bred to Giant's Causeway for a 2008 foal.) Frankel wins 24% of the time with 180+ day layoffs. It took Karen's Caper a couple of races to get geared up last year, but she's off to a winning start against a field which included the graded winner Pommes Frites.
We discussed Indian Flare's win the other day. Ginger Punch came very close to Grade 1 glory; she just missed catching Take D'Tour, who held on grimly while tiring after pressing Teammate to a half of 44.97 (after an opening quarter of 23.07; 11.90 for that second quarter). First Word, 12-1 morning line in his turf debut, was hot on the board at a steady 4-1 for the Notoriety. Reader Jim L mentioned Gimme Credit, and yes indeed, he's a NY-bred winning an open company overnight stakes. He's by Artax out of a Devil's Bag mare, and descends from the distaff family of the Belmont Stakes winner Cavaet; that one's dam is the third dam of Gimme Credit.
- Thanks much to reader Joe from Boston who sent along this article from the Boston Herald last week regarding the return of the Mass Cap to Suffolk Downs. It includes a picture of the generally camera shy Richard Fields, the new majority owner of the track. In addition to reinstating the race with a minimum purse of $500,000, purses have been increased across the board.
“If (Fields) didn’t come along, this may have been our last year,” said Al Balestra, president of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “They just increased the purses here 6-8 percent. It’s huge that he’s paying for it out of his own pocket, because if it comes out of our purse account, we’re going to have to suffer somewhere.”Of course, Fields is banking on the institution of slots at racetracks in the state to maintain any purse increases down the road; but it's certainly a great thing for Massachusetts racing fans to have their big race back this year; and a perfect five weeks (these days) before the Breeders Cup too.
- That's a pretty interesting breeding combo of Giant's Causeway and Gorella. The latter is inbred to Northern Dancer and Secretariat's half-brother Sir Gaylord, and Giant's Causeway complements that with an instance of Northern Dancer, and another of Big Red himself. The foal will also be inbred to the broodmare Crimson Saint, the dam of Terlingua (the dam of Storm Cat), Royal Academy, and Pancho Villa.