Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Newmarket hosts Falmouth: Heat disrupts action in America

The big race at Newmarket on Wednesday is the Group I Falmouth Stakes. It a race for fillies and mares over the straight 1600-metre course. By the time I finish this report, I will know the winner. Special Duty, the double Guineas winner, both on disqualification, heads the eight horse field. Tom Queally rides the Khalid Abdullah-owned filly. Criquette Head-Maarek trains. Christophe Lemaire was the intended rider but the French ace suffered a hairline fracture in his left leg in a fall at Compiegne (a track in France) on Monday. Helene Barbe, jockey Lemaire’s agent has confirmed that he will be on the sidelines for, at least, a month.

Tom Queally, who is having an extremely productive season in the UK, made a comment. “It is a nice ride to get but it is unfortunate to get a ride in those circumstances.”

The Falmouth field is high on quality. Lillie Langtry returns after winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot. Strawberrydaiquiri and Spacious, who were one-two separated with the help of a photo in the Windsor Forest Stakes, return. Music Show has been running at the highest level and takes her chances with the red hot Richard Hughes. Lahaleeb is a runner. Gile Na Greine, second in the Coronation, tries to turn the tables on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Lillie Langtry. Rainfall administered a beating to the boys in the Jersey stakes and is back with the girls. She has a mountain to climb though she races with her kind.

Here are news items that you ought to find interesting. Sir Michael Stoute will have two runners in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on the last Saturday in July. Ryan Moore will be aboard Workforce, the Epsom Derby hero. Workforce is the even money favorite. Harbinger, the other Stoute runner, comes off a romp in the Hardwicke Stakes and needs a rider. The search is on.

Blane Schvaneveldt, the 12-time US champion quarter horse trainer, is dead. He was 76 and died in California because of complications from cancer. Schvaneveldt won the most races at Los Alamitos, a quarter horse track near Los Angeles. He won 3962 races and won 38 training titles, according to Steven Andersen of the Daily Racing Form.

Another death to be reported and it is in the equine world this time. Singspiel, 18, has been put down. Sheikh Mohammed owned the globe-trotting son of In The Wings. Singspiel won the 1997 Dubai World Cup. The Coronation Cup, the Juddmonte International, the Japan Cup and the Canadian International are the other high profile races that the Godolphin torchbearer won. Singspiel was second in the Breeders’ Cup turf, the Eclipse and the Grand Prix de Paris. With nine wins from 20 outings, Singspiel earned 3,651,270 pounds. Some of Singspiel’s better known children are Moon Ballad, Papineau, Eastern Anthem, Confidential Lady and Dar Re Mi.

The race for leading jockey is heating up in Hong Kong. Douglas Whyte rode four winners at Sha Tin on Sunday to take a 99-96 lead over Brett Prebble. Two weeks ago, Brett Prebble had a six-bagger at Happy Valley to go nine clear of Whyte. In recent meetings, Whyte is on an upward curve and Prebble has been struggling. If Whyte wins the race, it will be the 10th consecutive title for him. The key to Whyte’s chances is John Size who is seeking his sixth training title in nine years.

End of Tuesday in the race for top jockey in England, Paul Hanaghan stood at 85. He had one winner on Monday and had four on Tuesday, winning the first three at Pontefract (afternoon) and the last at the twilight card at Southwell. Richard Hughes had a quadruple on Monday and took off on Tuesday. Hughes will be on duty on Wednesday at Newmarket and has 73. Ryan Moore has 72 winners.

Here is the essence of graded action that took place in the US at week’s end. Informed Decision, a daughter of Derby-winning Monarchos, won the 1400-metre Chicago Handicap at Arlington Park. Champion female sprinter in 2009, Informed Decision, ridden by Julien Leparoux, led into the stretch and beat back a strong bid from Rinterval, a 33-1 longshot.

Jonathan Sheppard, the winning trainer, spoke. “She (Informed Decision) was giving nine pounds to a horse who had won a half million dollars. I thought she won with authority.”

One of Monmouth Park’s premier races was the Grade I United Nations Handicap. It was a 2200-metre race on the grass with a $750,000 purse. Coming from last to first in the nine-horse field, Chinchon, a runner with French origins, won by a length and a half over Take The Points. Chinchon was ridden by Garrett Gomez and returned $9.60. Winchester salvaged the show spot. The time was 2 11.77 seconds on firm turf. Chinchon is trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias.

Jockey Gomez paid tribute to his mount. “He’s a beautiful horse. He travelled very well and the pace did not seem to be what we thought. I was able to save ground on both turns even though I was last. He has a tremendous turn of foot.”

The Grade II Firecracker Handicap, a 1600-metre turf race at Churchill Downs, attracted more than ordinary attention because of the presence of Mine That Bird who was making his grass debut and was running for the first time in the care of Wayne Lukas. As the Firecracker progressed, the pacesetting Tizdejavu widened his advantage to win by a length and a half. Public Speaker took second and was head in front of Inca King. Fourteen ran. Mine That Bird, the 5-2 favorite in the hands of Calvin Borel, was a backmarker and ended up eighth beaten almost eight lengths. The race was run in 1 35.98 on a firm grass course.

Jesus Castanon rode Tizdejavu, a son of Tiznow. George Fox trains Tizdejavu. The tote returned $10.20.

Trainer Fox said, “I’m thrilled. We will point to races in the fall. All we have been thinking about recently is clearing this hurdle. We will freshen him up for the fall.”

Mine That Bird won the 2009 Kentucky Derby by six and three quarter lengths. That was the widest margin in 60 years. Now, consider this. Mine That Bird has lost six consecutive races. Trainer Lukas thought aloud. “He did not look comfortable until the far turn. We got that out (the grass debut) and that’s it.”

The Churchill Downs (Derby) meeting has ended. Ellis Park takes over the baton with a 27-day campaign that gets under way this Saturday.

Belmont Park hosted the Grade I Prioress Stakes on Sunday. It was another win for jockey Garrett Gomez. It was a $250,000 race for sophomore girls on the dirt. Franny Freud, the 7/10 favorite, justified the public confidence. The 1200-metre Prioress was run in 1 10.11 seconds. John Terranova II trains Franny Freud, a daughter of Freud.

Jockey Gomez spoke. “I am glad she got it done. She was right on them. Everybody got a fair trip and we had a fair trip too.”

It is hot- extra hot- in the US. The Northeast, especially, is in the grip of a heat wave. It is relative. In India, a hot US day will be a run-of-the-mill day. The days are long. The sun comes out by 4 30 AM and it is not dark until well past 9 30 PM. Belmont Park in New York has cancelled its Wednesday card because of extreme heat. Temperatures in the New York area are likely to be in the 100-degree range. Delaware Park has also cancelled racing on Wednesday.

This is the seventh time that racing has been abandoned in New York this year. The first six cancellations came at Aqueduct, another New York track in January, February and March.

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