News and STORIES
Spill in the Stretch Causes Disqualification in the Haskell
Quick Call (Grade 3)
Golden Pal had racked up an impressive resume as a 2 year old. After debuting at Gulfstream Park trainer Wesley Ward shipped the horse to the group 2 Norfolk at Royal Ascot. Following a prestigious runner up effort he won his last 2 races of 2020. The first was the Skidmore at Saratoga and the 2nd was the Grade 2 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Undeniably he was the best 2 year old sprinter of 2020, but he had been off since November 6th and the question was if he could come back and fire off of such a long layoff and as other horses in the division progressed.
The answer was a resounding yes. He broke like a shot from the gate and set blistering fractions that took the starch out of his competition. He finished under a hand ride well clear of Omaha City and Jaxson Traveler.
With the victory, it is clear that the turf sprint division at the Breeder’s Cup will likely go through the Wesley Ward barn.
Schuylerville (Grade 3)
The Schuylerville is a grade 3 sprint for 2 year olds. Part of the magic of the Saratoga meet is the chance to see many of the future stars of the game with a number of prominent 2 year old stakes races. In the 2021 Schuylerville, Pretty Birdie got the jump on the field and broke quickly out to a comfortable lead.
As the horses entered the stretch, post time favorite Mainstay closed the gap, but was never able to get by the leader who won in wire to wire fashion. Although the top two had a competitive stretch run, the rest of the field seemed a cut below conceding several lengths to the top 2.
Diana (Grade 1)
For years European racing has seen the massive success of Godolphin Stables. More recently the Dubai based stable has put a great emphasis on success on the American continent. This year is quickly shaping up to be the year of the Emirates blue silks.
Joining fellow Godolphin American superstars like Mystic Guide, Maxfield, and Essential Quality, Althiqa and Summer Romance took the U.S. by storm finishing 1st and 2nd in the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont.
The Grade 1 Diana was a repeat performance as Summer Romance took command early and led the herd around the course. As they ran down the lane, stablemate Althiqa came driving to blow by for the victory. Behind the Godolphin runners La Signare was able to outkick Harvey’s Lil’ Goil to the finish to get up for third by a nose.
Haskell (Grade 1)
The Haskell will be the race that has everyone talking through the rest of the racing year. The final order of finish was a predictable result with Hot Rod Charlie edging Mandaloun to cross the line first. Midnight Bourbon crossed the wire a riderless third, while Following Sea crossed just behind the loose horse.
Immediately following the race, the inquiry sign lit up. The stewards were looking into the awkward spill that caused Midnight Bourbon to stumble and toss jockey Paco Lopez. The head on replay revealed that while Mandaloun had maintained a straight course, Hot Rod Charlie veered in. Midnight Bourbon was cut off, clipped heels, and went down.
Because of the interference it was determined that Hot Rod Charlie would be disqualified from first and placed 7th behind Midnight Bourbon. The disqualification elevated Mandaloun from 2nd to 1st.
The win for Mandaloun may establish him as the first ever horse to be granted 2 grade 1 victories in the same year via disqualification. The Cox trainee currently holds the honor of runner up in the Kentucky Derby as the Bob Baffert/Medina Spirit positive drug test continues to make its way through the court system.
The race immediately sparked controversy on social media as many involved in the sport pointed toward the new whip rule as a major reason for the spill. One of the reasons riders will use the crop is to keep a horse straight as they get fatigued in the lane.
Opponents of the new rule were quick to point out that Hot Rod Charlie’s drifting in ultimately led him directly into the path of Midnight Bourbon.
Whether or not the whip rule directly caused the fall, it was a bad look for the racetrack’s biggest event of the year.
United Nations (Grade 1)
The United Nations produced a predictable winner in Tribhuvan for Chad Brown. Brown winning grade 1 races on turf has become about as predictable as the sunrise. Much like the French bred attempted in the Manhattan Stakes, he blitzed to the front and dared the field to chase after him. While he was run down in the final strides last time, this group was not equal to the task and won as the 8-5 favorite.
Despite the formful finish, there was plenty of value to be had by bettors. The Argentinian, Imperador, came in 2nd at odds of 23-1. Rounding out the trifecta was the 60-1 shot Epic Bromance. Fourth place finisher Serve The King was 16-1.
The winner of the race may have only paid out $5.40 for every $2 bet to win, but the exacta was $35.90 for $1. The $.50 trifecta paid out $624.15 while the $.10 superfecta paid out $998.24.
Arklow, who was well backed by the public and at times the favorite, took an extremely awkward step on the back stretch that all but eliminated him from contention.
San Diego Handicap (Grade 2)
Del Mar kicked off its late summer season on Friday. The main event for the weekend was the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. In this type of race horses are assigned weight based on accomplishment. The two top weights were given to Royal Ship and Express Train.
The group was tightly bunched with Michael McCarthy’s Rushie in the lead rounding the far turn. Express train got the first jump as Royal Ship followed behind looking for a crease to break through. Eventually, the favorite was able to find his way down to the inside of Express Train, who had taken the lead.
As the two horses bobbed back and forth Tripoli came flying on the outside to contest. Express Train was as game as they come and put away Royal Ship to his inside before holding off the Sadler trainee to his outside.
Following the victory his connections were non-committal about the winner potentially pointing toward the TVG Pacific Classic which is often the next race for the winner of this event.
Del Mar will host the 2021 Breeder’s cup at year’s end.
The Grade 3 Sanford Stakes was run at Saratoga on Saturday featured a heavy favorite in Wit. The Todd Pletcher trained horse followed up an impressive maiden special weight win at Belmont with an easy victory in only his 2nd career start.
The horse has shown a lot of talent in his first two starts including the ability to respond while behind horses. He now is likely to point toward the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes. The first Saturday in May is a long way off, but Wit is quickly establishing himself as a potential Derby candidate.
Notable Speed Figures From the Weekend
Beau Liam (106) Saratoga
Witsel (106) Saratoga
Tribhuvan (103) Monmouth- Turf
Hot Rod Charlie (102)
Mandaloun (102) Monmouth
Echo Zulu (92) Saratoga
Wit (90) Saratoga