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Friday, July 08, 2005

Notes - July 8

- I picked up tomorrow’s Form, and there on the front page is a big color photo of Lost in the Fog with the headline Speed and Class. So I went to turn to the Calder races to check out tomorrow’s Summit of Speed program….but there are no Calder races in my edition. I got Colonial, Delaware, and Philly, and no offense to any of those tracks, but there are eight stakes in Florida and NYRA is departing from its usual simulcast schedule to carry the program while none of those other three are carried in New York, not at the track anyway (Delaware on rare occasions). It seems totally random week to week as to what tracks I’ll see in my print edition. The Calder event is an idea that has blossomed in just a short time.

Told five years ago by Vice President of Marketing Mike Cronin that he could see the day when Calder would hold $500,000 sprint races in the middle of the summer, Racing Secretary Bobby Umphrey had kidded: "I see a day when I see a Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison concert."

But what seemed impossible has become reality. On Saturday the eyes of the racing world will be on Calder when it not only hosts one of the most exciting 3-year-olds -- undefeated Lost in the Fog -- but the country's top sprinters, trainers and jockeys.

The Summit of Speed, as Calder has dubbed Saturday's program, will feature eight stakes races, such jockeys as Jerry Bailey, Mike Smith and Russell Baze and trainers Frank Brothers and Bob Baffert. [Sun-Sentinal]

- Trainer Steve Klesaris is 5 for 5 with debuting 2 year olds this year! Yesterday, he sent out Diabolical, taking all the money as the even money favorite) to a nearly 10 length win in the 4th at Belmont. You may have noticed Klesaris’ name, along with owner Jeffrey Puglisi in the sales results over the last year, as they spent $4 million since last summer on their current crop of 22 juveniles.
Master of Disaster, a 13 1/4-length winner at Delaware Park on May 10, is being pointed to the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on July 28. Diabolical was impressive enough Wednesday that he could join his stablemate in the starting gate in that race. [Daily Racing Form]
Diabolical (Artax) was a $62,000 yearling that Puglisi bought for $300,000 at the Ocala Feb 2 year old sale this year. He’s from a sterling Darby Dan family – his second and third dams are graded stakes winners Plenty of Grace and Wings of Grace.

Besides that, what a blah day at Belmont Thursday, appropriate given the day's events – two of three turf races taken off, and no less than six races featured favorites of even money or less – with three of those less than 1-2, yuck. They all won except for the cheapest of them all, a .25 to 1 shot named Winner, who made a Loser of a lot of people. She’s a royally bred 3 yo Phipps filly by Horse Chestnut out of a winning daughter of champion Personal Ensign (who is thus a half to G1 winners Miners Mark and My Flag), who was coming off a maiden win in her lone prior start. She couldn’t hold off 8-1 shot Factual Contender, ridden by the sizzling Edgar Prado, the second of his two wins on the day, and trained by Frank Martin. Elbar Coa had another winner, but received a ten-day suspension for his DQ on Monday. He’ll continue to ride while he appeals.

Tropical Storm Cindy is coming through here today and it's pouring, so I’ve cancelled my scheduled trip for the twilight card today, and you can likely expect a wet track and no turf racing at least through tomorrow, ugh. I don't generally either bother handicapping the races under these conditions, so I'll be looking elsewhere if I'm around tomorrow before I actually do go this time to the Meadowlands at night.

- The Hollywood Gold Cup is a tough puzzle to figure. Of the ten contestants, only one, Al Arz, has won at a mile and a quarter, and that was in a grade 2 in Brazil. The 6 yo has an OK second in an allowance in his first U.S. race (and his first in 16 months), and I’m not that high on Brazilian imports right now after the disappointing run of License to Run last week. Limehouse (Grand Slam) is likely to be favored coming off his win in the Brooklyn in which he earned a lifetime best 112 Beyer; Pletcher’s 4 yo seems to be coming to hand. However, consider that the Brooklyn was perhaps an even weaker field than this, and the race was around Belmont’s one turn. Still, a good spot to shoot for a Grade 1 win, though the trainer warns, "They might read easier on paper than they are.” [Daily Racing Form].

He may face stiff competition from Lava Man (Slew City Slew), winner of the G2 Californian, if he can get the 10 furlongs. He’s an interesting story, having debuted in a $12,500 maiden claimer on the California fair circuit; Doug O’Neill claimed him for 50K last August. The 4 yo gelding has improved in his last two races with blinkers on after three extremely disappointing efforts against state-breds earlier this year.
''It looks like blinkers give him more speed early in the race without being asked,'' O'Neill .. ''They block out distractions. They keep (horses) focused on racing and keep them from falling into the pack-animal routine.….'Sometimes, as an owner or trainer, you put blinkers on or take blinkers off just to try to change their form.” [San Bernardino County Sun]
Anziyan Royalty was beaten just a length by Lava Man in the Californian, but I’m not sure if that makes him a contender here or points out Lava Man as being a cut below these. Congrats has at least tried the distance five times, with a third and a second, the latter being in the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, beaten less than 2 by Rock Hard Ten. After a fruitless trip to Dubai, he ran a good second to McCann’s Mojave in a 7.5 furlong sprint to prep for this, and trainer Richard Mandella hits at 27% with the sprint to route move. Borrego was just a length behind Congrats in the SA Handicap but needs to bounce back from a very disappointing 4th in the Californian.