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Blog - RACING

Follow along as America's Best Racing recaps all of the graded stakes action from Belmont Park and Santa Anita Park on the biggest weekend of prep races for the Breeders' Cup World Championship.

Sylmar Strikes in Beldame

Princess of Sylmar started Super Saturday with a bang when she won the “Royal Showdown” in the $400,000 Beldame Invitational against Royal Delta.

The 3-year-old filly raced close behind Royal Delta and Roman Invader into the final turn. The showdown developed between Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar as expected but Princess of Sylmar easily pulled away from Royal Delta in deep stretch to win by two lengths. Princess of Sylmar covered the 1 1/8-mile distance in a time of 1:47.93.

The Beldame is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, giving Princess of Sylmar a possible automatic berth to the Distaff. However, Princess of Sylmar is not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup, so King of Prussia Stable’s Ed Stanco would have to pay a fee to supplement the filly to the field if he decides to enter her.

"It was a small field. My filly put me in a good spot. The only thing Todd [Pletcher] told me was to ride with a lot of patience," said Javier Castellano, the winning jockey. "I think she did it the right way today. She kept track of Royal Delta all the way. Turning for home, I didn't see Royal Delta take off, and my filly just grabbed me. When I let her go she just took off and opened up. I'm very satisfied. She's an amazing filly."

Princess of Sylmar went of as the 2-to-1 second choice taking on older females for the first time, with Royal Delta as the 1-to-5 favorite. The victory against Royal Delta cemented Princess of Sylmar’s status as the country’s best 3-year-old filly, and she would almost certainly be the favorite if Stanco does enter her in the Distaff.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

PRINCESS REIGNS IN BELDAME

Beldame Hero

Princess of Sylmar put away two-time champion Royal Delta to win the Beldame Invitational Stakes on Belmont Park's Super Saturday card. (Photo by Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

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Ron the Greek Upsets Jockey Club Gold Cup

Ron the Greek pulled one of the biggest upsets of Super Saturday in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup when he won the race in spectacular fashion at odds of 21-to-1.

The 6-year-old horse raced in midpack before surging powerfully to the lead in the stretch. While it looked like Palace Malice might be able to make a charge at the lead for a moment, Ron the Greek pricked his ears as he pulled away to win by open lengths.

Ron the Greek’s last major win came in the 2012 Stephen Foster Handicap when he beat eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan by a head. The horse has proven that he likes Santa Anita by winning the Santa Anita Handicap in 2012 on the same track that the Breeders’ Cup Classic will be held on this year. Ron the Greek finished fourth in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

RON THE GREEK SURGES AWAY TO A JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP ROMP

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Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

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Graydar Returns from Layoff With Kelso Win

Graydar was a flashy winner in the second stakes race of the day when he took the $400,000 Kelso Handicap by three-quarters of a length.

Returning off of a six-month layoff, Graydar took the lead early in the race and led through modest fractions. Graydar had to fend off Brujo de Olleros near the finish line but never looked seriously in danger of losing the race. He covered the one-mile distance of the Kelso in a time of 1:34.08 with Edgar Prado aboard.

Graydar is headed to either the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile or the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 2. With the win in the Kelso, a “Win and You’re In” race, he is guaranteed a spot in the Dirt Mile starting gate and will most likely go off as one of the favorites if his connections elect to send him to the race.

For an Equibase chart, click here

FLASH OF GRAYDAR

Kelso Inside

Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA

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Private Zone Outduels Justin Phillip in Vosburgh

The $400,000 Vosburgh Invitational Stakes developedinto the type of battle many were expecting in the Beldame when it was a head-to-head fight to the finish line between Private Zone and Justin Phillip.

But after surviving a claim of foul, Private Zone got the win by a neck after leading from right out the starting gate. The only time the 4-year-old gelding was worse than first was for a few strides as he neared the finish line when headed by Justin Phillip, but Private Zone made one final push to put his head in front before they crossed the line.

Private Zone covered the six furlongs in 1:08.02 to clinch his spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint due to the Vosburgh’s “Win and You’re In” status.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

PRIVATE ZONE (inside) HOLDS ON IN VOSBURGH

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Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA

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Walk in the Park for Laughing in Flower Bowl

Laughing continued her undefeated season on Saturday when she won the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes.

Laughing got away with humorously slow fractions on the lead of the 1 ¼-mile race, running a time of 2:02.34 on the firm turf. The slow early pace gave her enough to continue going when the field challenged her in the stretch, including a late, impressive run by Tannery from the back of the pack.  

It was a rewarding Flower Bowl for owner Richard Santulli and trainer Alan Goldberg as they are also the owner and trainer of Tannery.

The win gives Laughing a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf as the Flower Bowl was a “Win and You’re In” event. Like Princess of Sylmar, Laughing would have to be supplemented into the race as she is not Breeders’ Cup nominated. But if Santulli does decide to pay the supplemental fee, Laughing will be one of the favorites for the race, along with Dank, also a daughter of Dansili. 

For an Equibase chart, click here.

LAUGHING (inside) LOCKS UP FLOWER BOWL

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Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

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Little Mike Proves Doubters Wrong in Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

Little Mike had people questioning his desire to race this year after four straight off-the-board finishes but the gelding turned silenced those doubts with a Grade 1 win in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.

Little Mike raced in fourth in the early stages of the 1 ½-mile race as Joes Blazing Aaron led the field around the sweeping Belmont track. But Mike Smith asked Little Mike to move up as they went into the turn and by the time they hit the stretch, Little Mike was in the lead. Real Solution challenged him on the outside  late in the race while fellow Ken and Sarah Ramsey entry Big Blue Kitten flew up the inside but Little Mike survived the assault to win a photo finish over Big Blue Kitten by a nose.

Earlier this week, trainer Dale Romans had said that Little Mike had to prove that he was up to defending his title the Breeders’ Cup Turf in this race after his subpar season. Little Mike not only showed a bit of his former talent in the running of the race but he also earned a spot in this year’s edition of the Breeders’ Cup Turf with his victory in the “Win and You’re In” race.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

LITTLE MIKE (inside, orange and black silks) NARROWLY HOLDS ON

VHTC-Eclipse

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

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Mucho Macho Man Gets First Grade 1 Victory in Awesome Again

After 22 starts, Mucho Macho Man finally got a well-deserved Grade 1 win when he beat Paynter in the $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes.

The 5-year-old horse had Gary Stevens aboard for the first time in his first start at Santa Anita since finishing second in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Mucho Macho Man rated for Stevens in the early going before moving forward on the backstretch. By the time the pair hit the stretch, it was obvious that Mucho Macho Man was on his way to his first Grade 1 win. Paynter put in a bid for the win but it was never a serious challenge for Mucho Macho Man, who won a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic starting gate with the victory.

Even though Mucho Macho Man hadn’t won a race since the 2012 Suburban Handicap, the horse has been consistent with only one off-the-board finish in six races. With his performance in last year’s Breeders’ Cup and the win at Santa Anita today, he could go off as one of the favorites in the Classic in November.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

MUCHO MACHO MAN WAS MUCH THE BEST IN AWESOME AGAIN

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Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates

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Beholder Beats Elders in Zenyatta Stakes

Beholder gave her owner B. Wayne Hughes the best birthday present possible on Saturday when she she defeated top-notch group of older fillies and mares in the $250,000 Zenyatta Stakes.

The 3-year-old filly went straight to the lead with jockey Gary Stevens and just cruised along with what looked like no effort. While several accomplished challengers attempted to take her on approaching the stretch, she brushed them off and galloped to the win.

Beholder earned championship honors last year after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. After a busy spring campaign that culminated with a second-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks against Princess of Sylmar, Beholder received a few months off. The Zenyatta Stakes is her second win since coming back earlier this month and ensures that she will be one of the favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 1. 

For an Equibase chart, click here.

BEHOLDER EASILY WON THE ZENYATTA STAKES ON HER WAY TO THE BREEDERS' CUP DISTAFF

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Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates

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Compass Catches Tiger in Chandelier

All attention was on the wrong Bob Baffert filly for Santa Anita’s first Grade 1 race of the day when Fascinating went off as the favorite in the Chandelier Stakes, but it was Baffert's Secret Compass who won the race.

The 2-year-old fillies set blistering early fractions that would lead to a new stakes record of 1:44.91 for the 1 1/16 miles. Secret Compass raced in fourth for the first half of the race but was asked to move by Rosie Napravnik entering the turn. It looked like She’s a Tiger would get another stakes victory but Secret Compass finally caught the leader and passed her right as they hit the finish line.

The Chandelier is the first graded stakes victory for Secret Compass, who broke her maiden two starts ago. With the win, she has earned her way into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, which is also at 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita’s dirt track.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

SECRET COMPASS GETS HER FIRST GRADED STAKES WIN (inside, blue silks) 

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Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates

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Final Flurry Propels Tiz Flirtatious in Rodeo Drive

Vionnet almost pulled a major upset in the $250,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes but in the end 8-to-5 second choice Tiz Flirtatious proved why the bettors had the right idea.

Vionnet went through soft fractions and looked like she would get the win, pulling away every time another horse came close to her. Marketing Mix started to wear away at the filly in the stretch and gained even more ground when she saw Tiz Flirtatious coming on the outside, but Tiz Flirtatious was able to get the win in a photo finish.

Tiz Flirtatious has been a consistent performer on the California circuit this year, winning four of five races with her only loss coming by a head to Marketing Mix two starts ago. Tiz Flirtatious is headed to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, where she will be running on the same turf course that she has won three races on this year, including the 1 ¼-mile distance of today’s race.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

TIZ FLIRTATIOUS WINS RODEO DRIVE THRILLER

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Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates

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I'll Have Another Connections Win FrontRunner with Bond Holder

Bond Holder’s first time on dirt proved to be a success as the 2-year-old Mineshaft colt broke his maiden in the $250,000 FrontRunner Stakes.

Bond Holder was near the back of the pack going down the backstretch before he was asked to move going into the turn. He steadily gained positions as the field moved into the stretch and took over the lead from the middle of the track to beat a confidently ridden Dance With Fate. The win gives trainer Doug O’Neill a Grade 1 victory on both coasts on Saturday as he also won the Vosburgh Invitational with Private Zone at Belmont Park.

Bond Holder earned his way into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with the FrontRunner win where he will be running for the connections of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another’s connections.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

BOND HOLDER CLOSES TO WIN FRONTRUNNER

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Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates


Image Description

Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Melissa Bauer-Herzog was born and raised in Vancouver, Wash. where she grew up riding horses in all-around events. After graduating from West Texas A&M with a B.S. in Mass Communication she spent the summer of 2012 interning at the United States Equestrian Federation and working at the Paulick Report. Melissa joined America’s Best Racing in December 2012 while interning with Three Chimneys Farm in their marketing communications division.

Image Description

Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Melissa Bauer-Herzog was born and raised in Vancouver, Wash. where she grew up riding horses in all-around events. After graduating from West Texas A&M with a B.S. in Mass Communication she spent the summer of 2012 interning at the United States Equestrian Federation and working at the Paulick Report. Melissa joined America’s Best Racing in December 2012 while interning with Three Chimneys Farm in their marketing communications division.

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