International Festival of Racing Notes (8/13/15)
Contact: Michael Adolphson
In today's notes:
WEDDING VOW BRINGS TOP FORM TO BEVERLY D.
Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Wedding Vow enters the Grade I $700,000 Beverly D. as the deserved second choice in the field of 10 fillies and mares. The lone sophomore taking on her elders, the daughter of Galileo has only won once for trainer Aidan O’Brien, but did so in the Group II $125,000 Kilboy Estate Stakes – the same race Dank parlayed into a Beverly D. romp in 2013 in July at The Curragh in her home country of Ireland.
“She traveled well, both her and (Grade I $450,000 Secretariat Stakes runner Highland Reel),” said T. J. Comerford, assistant to O’Brien. “They’re used to traveling and there’s never any issue there.”
Wedding Vow is one of three O’Brien-trained sophomore daughters of Galileo owned by the aforementioned Coolmore principals along with Outstanding and Together Forever, both of whom were under consideration for the Beverly D.
“Outstanding ran a blinder to finish third to probably the best filly in America (Lady Eli) in the (Grade I $1,000,000) Belmont Oaks (Invitational on July 4), but (Wedding Vow) is probably better. So, if she’s better, she should probably be on the premises. She is progressing and getting better with each race. Legatissimo, who beat her, is one of the decent fillies around this year and if she wasn’t there, (Wedding Vow) is a Group I winner.”
In seven starts, the improving bay filly has hit the board five times and earned $296,202. Last out, in the afore-referenced Group I $937,000 Nassau Stakes, she ran gamely in defeat. Now, she turns around on a mere two weeks’ rest – but such is not new for the Ballydoyle-based team. In 2011, they brought over Together for the same ownership, who finished second to her elders in the Grade I $400,000 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland and stayed to run the following week in the Grade I $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup – winning with aplomb – over the same course.
“This filly is a good filly,” Comerford said. “Every time Aidan has run her, she’s always run well. She broke her maiden in a Group II and then ran in a Group I, so it’s solid form.
“I'm not at all worried about the two weeks break,” he continued. “We brought Together here and ran second in a Grade I then ran a week later in a Grade I and won the race. People practically ignored her because of it. They’re racehorses and that’s what they do. They run and ours seem to thrive on it.”
PANAMA HAT LOOKS TO TOP OFF AMERICAN ST. LEGER
Team Valor International has entered the International Festival of Racing in full force in 2015. In addition to Grade I $1,000,000 Arlington Million contender Triple Threat and Grade I $700,000 Beverly D. favorite Euro Charline, the powerful ownership group has an intriguing 10-1 shot for the Grade III $350,000 American St. Leger in Panama Hat.
A winner of six of 17 starts, the son of Medicean was bred in Great Britain and has proven to be a bit of an iron horse in a short career. In addition to winning the $50,000 Lenebane Stakes at Roscommon in his home country of Ireland last out on July 6 for trainer Andy Oliver, the chestnut 4-year-old gelding ran first or second in seven races in a two-month span in 2014, including five consecutive victories. Three of those were within a week of one another and two were only 48 hours apart.
In 2015, the improving maternal grandson of Rock of Gibraltar has stepped it up in class and performed admirably. Before his Lenebane victory, he was a half-length second to Kingfisher – one of the highest-rated stayers in Europe – in the Listed $59,000 McGrath Memorial Saval Beg Stakes on June 5. Said effort earned him his highest Timeform rating (113) and took place in a 1 3/4 miles event – a distance a sixteenth of a mile longer than the 1 11/16 miles he will tackle in the American St. Leger.
“He’s a mystery horse,” said Barry Irwin, Team Valor CEO and founder. “He’s lazy and doesn’t want to train, so that’s why he ran so many races. This is a large break for him, so he’ll be fresh, but the question is will he be fit.
“Last time the jockey had to ride him every step of the way,” Irwin continued. “He reluctantly obliged the win. That day he had blinkers on and I don’t think he liked them, so we will put the cheek pieces back on, instead. I like this race because of the distance for him. If he runs his race, he’ll be right there. Is the real Panama Hat going to show up – that’s the question.”
Whether or not the best form of Panama Hat shows up may be an afterthought after seeing him train this week. On his toes, but relaxed, the earner of $157,738 has continued to impress in the flesh and appears to have lost little from the trans-Atlantic trip.
“He has been feeling great,” said Roger Bradley, head traveling lad for Oliver. “He’s been one-hundred percent since getting here. He shipped very well.”
ELLEVAL SEEKS MILLION GLORY
Damian Lavelle’s cleverly named Elleval enters the 33rd Arlington Million as an outsider, but his connections are confident he will relish the conditions of the prestigious summertime turf classic. The son of Irish-bred Kodiac is well-traveled and has shown this week that few things hinder him, displaying a cool and calm demeanor all week.
“We just stretched him out a little this morning,” said James Casey, head traveling lad and exercise rider for trainer David Marnane. “He’s done all of his work back home and he is feeling good. The style of your racing in America should suit him. If he has a bit of pace to run at, that’ll be good. I also think he’ll like the ground.”
Last out, in the Group III $66,000 Meld Stakes over the relatively flat, left-handed Leopardstown’s oval course, the 5-year-old gelding ran well to lose to Moyglare Stud’s Grade I $700,000 Beverly D. contender Carla Bianca by three-quarters of a length. As a sophomore, the bay charge was a good second in another left-handed oval over level ground in the Grade II $2,000,000 UAE Derby.
“The thing about Leopardstown is that it’s pretty level, as far as Irish tracks go,” Casey explained. “It’s one of the better ones and it’s more similar to an American-style track than most. He likes that style and he has done well over it. Right now he’s doing very well and there’s no reason not to run when they’re going that way.”
The Irish-based Elleval will get the services of one of the top Irish jockeys for the first time on Saturday in Pat Smullen, who was aboard Carla Bianca in the Meld. The pair break from post 12 of 13 and are assigned morning-line odds of 30-1.
GERMANY DERBY CHAMP LUCKY SPEED CONTINUES CAMPAIGN
Lucky Speed enters the Grade III $350,000 American St. Leger as one of the obvious choices and has trained well all week in advance of his American debut. A winner of the 2013 Group I $642,000 German Derby, the son of 2001 Arlington Million champ Silvano will look to emulate his sire and prove victorious at Arlington International Racecourse in the August heat when he breaks from post three at morning-line odds of 5-1.
“He’s doing very good,” reported Ilke Hildebrand, assistant trainer to Peter Schiergen. “He’s already had four weeks in Canada and we vanned down 12 hours from Woodbine. The plan is to go back to Canada for the (Grade I $300,000) Northern Dancer Stakes and (Grade I $1,000,000) Canadian International (on Sept. 13 and Oct. 18, respectively) after this.”
In what commenced his North American campaign, the bay 5-year-old was fourth last out in the Grade II $200,000 Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine on July 19. At 1 1/8 miles, the Nijinsky was well below the distances he had been racing in his last few races, including a third in the 12-furlong Group I $235,000 Grand Prix von Berlin last fall.
“When he ran last time in the Nijinsky it was too short,” Hildebrand said. “We wanted to find another race, but we flew in too late, so we had to run in there. The jockey said he needed more ground.”
Impressive in coat and a kind attitude, the three-time winner in nine starts and earner of $495,934 Lucky Speed worked a half-mile on Aug. 9 at Woodbine in :50 flat to complete his preparation for Saturday’s 1 11/16-miles event.
“He’s a gentleman,” Hildebrand said. “He’s never too fresh and loves people. We hope he can win.”
MISS CHATELAINE TAKES ON PRADO’S SWEET RIDE IN PUCKER UP; RECOUNT GOES FOR FOURTH STAKES IN BRUCE D. MEMORIAL
Stakes winners Miss Chatelaine and Prado’s Sweet Ride top a competitive renewal of the Grade III $100,000 Pucker Up Stakes on the Arlington Million Day undercard. Owned by Highland Yard and trained by Christophe Clement, Miss Chatelaine has started only four times, but began her career with two impressive one-mile victories, including the $100,000 Chelsea Flower Stakes at Belmont Park to closer her 2-year-old campaign. In two starts in 2015, she was sixth – beaten only three lengths – and eighth – beaten just over five – behind Lady Eli in the $200,000 Wonder Again Stakes and Grade I $1,000,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, respectively. Joel Rosario, who was aboard for her Chelsea Flower win, returns to the saddle from post 10 of 11.
Darrell and Sadie Brommer’s Prado’s Sweet Ride enters the 1 1/8-miles Pucker Up after a victory at the same trip in Churchill Down’s Grade III $100,000 Regret Stakes on June 13. Always well-regarded, the locally based Chris Block trainee will break from post eight under Jose Lezcano.
Third in the Regret, Calumet Farms’ regally bred Return to Grace looms as an improving type for trainer Mark Casse. By champion turf horse English Channel out of champion 2-year-old filly Golden Attraction, she has improved with each of her four starts and made a bold bid in mid-stretch of the Regret in her first start out of the maiden ranks. Joe Bravo picks up the mount from post five.
Stoneway Farm’s homebred Ahh Chocolate has long been well-regarded by trainer Neil Howard and enters in what will be her turf debut. A daughter of turf-friendly sire Candy Ride, the bay filly exits a pair of useful performances in graded stakes on the dirt. Last out, she was fourth in the Grade II $200,000 Indiana Oaks on July 18. Brian Hernandez, Jr., rides from post seven.
David Menard and Captain Jack Racing Stable’s locally based Tony Granitz trainee America Mon Amie enters off a fourth-place finish in the Duchess Stakes at Woodbine in what her conditioner deemed a maintenance race. Two races back, the daughter of Australian Group I winner All American was a sharp winner of the $75,000 Northbound Pride Oaks at Canterbury Park. A graduate in Arlington maiden ranks in May, she breaks from post six under Rosemary Homeister, Jr.
The remainder of the field is comprised of Unbridled Courage (Kent Desormeaux, rail), Giant Deduction (Florent Geroux, post two), Mizz Money (Robby Albarado, post three), Urtheoneeyelove (Edgar Prado, post four), Counterfactual (Drayden Van Dyke, post nine) and Walking the Kitten (Irad Ortiz, Jr., post 11).
Earlier in the card, Doubledown Stables’ Recount will go for his fourth stakes win in his seventh start when he breaks from the outside post eight in the $50,000 Bruce D. Memorial over one mile on the main course. Restricted to sophomores, the race features a rematch of Jimmy DiVito-trained Recount and Mellow Patch’s Mike Campbell-trained Private Prospect, who battled the entire seven furlongs in last September’s Grade III $100,000 Arlington Washington Futurity over the same course.
Winning that day, Recount would go on to take the $58,000 Land of Lincoln Stakes and $54,000 Addison Cammack Handicap against older horses this season. Private Prospect will look to return to form after eight straight losses, but does enter off a third-place finish in the Grade III Iowa Derby last out.
The remainder of the Bruce D. Memorial field is comprised of Shrewd Move (Geovanni Franco, rail), Chip Leader (Mitchell Murrill, post two), Bordini (Jose Valdivia, Jr., post three), Singingintheheat (E. T. Baird, post five), Belomor (Jerome Lermyte, post six) and Ratnik (Victor Bailon, post seven).
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