Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bob Baffert saddles Grade I double at Del Mar:Richard's Kid defends Pacific Classic title

Overdose, nicknamed the Budapest Bullet, was 14 for 14 going into Sunday’s Group II Goldene Peitsche, a 1200-metre race, at Baden Baden in Germany. As is his wont, Overdose, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, called the tune but began sending out distress signals 500 metres out. Unable to sustain, Overdose, the 4/6 favorite, finished seventh of 12 runners.

The Goldene Peitsche went to Amico Fritz, a 5/1 chance, trained by Alex Pantall and ridden by Fabrice Veron. The time was 1 11.38 seconds on soft turf. The winning margin was one half length. Amico Fritz is by Fasliyev out of Arctic Appeal by Ahonoora. After winning a Group III at Hoppegarten (Germany) on June 6, Amico Fritz was fifth in the Golden Jubilee Stakes (Group I, June 19) but beaten 24 lengths. On August 8, Amico Fritz was 15th in the 15-horse field in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, a Group I sprint at Deauville. On Sunday, Amico Fritz was able to raise his game and deliver.

Overdose was in a terrible mood. His pre-race temper tantrum resulted in expending a precious part of his energy. The Racing Post writer called it ‘a tremendous display of mulishness.’ Overdose refused to enter the stall repeatedly and jockey Soumillon was forced to dismount four times. I am quoting the Racing Post again, “bathed in sweat when finally in the stall,” the race may have been lost when the gates opened.

Owner Zoltan Mikoczy was very unhappy. “Soumillon should have withdrawn. Today, for some reason, he did not want to race. In the situation we had today, he should not have run.”

Jockey Soumillon suffered a leg injury as a result of Overdose’s antics and withdrew from riding in subsequent races. He was brief. “I have learnt from experience, it is best to say nothing in these situations.”

Is it not strange that the loser in a race gets more attention than the winner? It was the case again at the Curragh on Sunday. The third race was won by Obama Rule, a 16-1 chance. It must be a boost for President Obama whose approval ratings have taken serious hits in recent weeks. Obama is making a speech from the Oval Office on Tuesday (evening) about the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.

Memory was all the rage in the fifth race on Sunday at the Curragh. The going was firm. Kildare County is having a dry spell and the course had been watered. The even money favorite, from Richard Hannon’s barn, was ridden by Richard Hughes in the 1400-metre race for freshman girls. Twelve ran. Misty For Me, Seamie Heffernan up, was one of Ballydoyle’s representatives. Together, another Aidan O’Brien runner, had John Murtagh. Misty For Me, a 10-1 chance, set sail up front as the twelve fillies were let go. As the race took a serious turn, Misty For Me found more as the challengers delivered their bids. Memory was causing concern to her supporters, Concern became panic as Memory was not gaining ground. Laughing Lashes ran on but Misty For Me was in no mood to yield. The margin was a length and the time was 1 24.56 seconds.

Misty For Me was winning for the second time in four outings. All the four races have been at the Curragh. Galileo is the sire of Misty For Me. Butterfly (by Storm Cat) is the dam.

Trainer O’Brien commented, “she has been coming forward with every run. Seamie has always said she has been crying out to go a mile. We will look at the Fillies’ Mile (Ascot, late September) and the Marcel Boussac (Longchamp) for her.”

Jockey Heffernan paid tribute to his mount. “She is tough and genuine. Aidan said to let her stride along in front. I was happy I was on the best filly and it all worked out.”

Yes, Memory has made more news with her defeat. The Danehill Dancer filly was three for three in her career. The Moyglare was her fourth race. Her track (work) reports had been highly encouraging. Richard Hughes was laconic.”She was never going at all today.”

Richard Hannon Jr, made a statement. “She did not fire for whatever reason. A few of ours have been running like that recently. We will take her home and find out if something went wrong.”

Rachel Alexandra has run five times this year. She has lost three times. Her most recent loss came in the Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Sunday. A 2/5 favorite in the 2000-metre Grade I (dirt) contest, Rachel Alexandra and Life At Ten disputed the lead for a better part of the first mile. The first half mile was run in 47.73 seconds. Six furlongs were covered in 1 12.02. At one point, the pair was 12 to 15 lengths ahead of the other three. Turning for home, Rachel Alexandra was able to see Life At Ten off. Persistently, a 20-1 chance, in the meanwhile, had cut the deficit down as the duel of attrition was ending. Jockey Alan Garcia had moved three-wide into the final turn with Persistently. With a furlong to go, jockey Calvin Borel asked Rachel Alexandra for more as Persistently would not go away. There was, may be, a little over a length to find and Persistently responded to jockey Garcia's call. The Claude McGaughey III-trained Persistently ran out the winner by a length in 2 04.49.

Life At Ten weakened but managed third and was ten lengths off the winner. The Phipps Stable owns Persistently, a filly by Smoke Glacken out of Just Reward by Deputy Minister. There was poetic justice as the incomparable Personal Ensign was owned and trained by Phipps and McGaughey.

Trainer McGaughey was delighted. "Obviously with Rachel Alexandra in the race, we knew we were a longshot. We thought she would run a mile and a quarter. It was Mr Phipps' decision. He wanted to give it a try especially in a small field. I am just tickled to death to win the Personal Ensign."

Alan Garcia spoke matter-of-factly. "We had a good trip. At the 3/8, I knew I had to move. She did it very well."

Jockey Borel had no excuses. "She (Rachel Alexandra) tried hard. At the eighth pole, I was concerned. We were beaten by the better horse today."

We will now take a look at the Grade I Pat O'Brien Stakes (1400 metres) run at Del Mar on Saturday. El Brujo, the red hot Joel Rosario up, made every call a winning one. The four year-old Candy Ride gelding showed tremendous early foot in clearing the field very early. It was a steady gallop and El Brujo won by one half length in a time of 1 21.70 seconds. El Brujo, a Bob Baffert pupil, paid $9.60. Enchanted by Devil's Bag is El Brujo's dam.

Crown of Thorns headed the beaten brigade. Smiling Tiger, the 12/10 chalk, was four lengths back in third. In the Bing Crosby on August 1, Smiling Tiger had given El Brujo a sound thrashing but the Pat O'Brien Stakes provided a complete reversal.

The Pat O'Brien was the 10th race in the Saturday card at Del Mar. The eighth race was the million-dollar Pacific Classic. It was Bob Baffert's Richard's Kid who emerged victorious to set the stage for a Group I double for the silver-haired, fast-talking trainer. Baffert was in Saratoga for the stakes-studded card.

Mike Smith was aboard Richard's Kid who was making a successful defence of his Pacific Classic title. A 9-2 chance, Richard's Kid.a five year-old horse by Lemon Drop Kid (Kingmambo) out of Tough Broad by Broad Brush, won by three parts of a length. The time for the 2000-metre race was 2 03.27 seconds. There were ten runners. Crowded House, the Racing Post Trophy winner as a freshman last year at Doncaster, led close home but could not match Richard's Kid's closing burst. The Usual Q T, the 5/2 favorite, did not have a happy trip and faded.

Richard's Kid was in the rear early in the 10-horse field, picked up horses in the far turn, was five-wide into the homestretch and poured it on in the final furlong. Richard's Kid had $966,000 in his account and the Pacific Classic put another $600,000 into the fund. In 2009, Richard's Kid, also ridden by Mike Smith, was at 24/1. This was the firsr time that jockey Smith was aboard the Bob Baffert ward in 2010. Richard's Kid joined Tinner's Way (94/95) and Skimming (2000-01) as two-time winners of Del Mar's showcase event. Tinner's Way and Skimming, Juddmonte-owned, were trained by the late Robert Frankel. It was the third Pacific Classic win for Bob Baffert. General Challenge won for Baffert in 1999. Richard's Kid has done it in 2009-10 and now has a berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic in November.

Jockey Smith spoke. "The first three jumps, I said to myself, oh no, here we go just like last year. He gathered himself. I could tell they were going a little slow. So I had him up closer than I normally would. It was easily done. It was just like deja vu all over again. You know this is only the second time I have been on him. I want to ride him once a year."

Here is news about three jockeys in England. Kieren Fallon got a five-day ban. He won with Piceno at Newmarket at week's end. The stewards ruled that jockey Fallon let Piceno drift toward Askaud who was second beaten a neck and did not make a serious attempt at correction. That got Fallon a three-day ban. There was another Fallon act that attracted the stewards' attention. It was determined that Fallon used the whip down the horse's shoulder in the forehand postion and that called for a tw-day suspension. Fallon is approaching the 100-winner mark this year.

Paul Hanghan, the leader in the jockeys' race, will be sidelined for three days, September 10, 12 and 13. Hanaghan was eighth aboard Sea Crest in a 1000-metre handicap last Friday (twilight) at Newcastle. He was charged with careless riding. Hanaghan leads the standings with 130 wins. "I thought it was a bit harsh. I felt I might get one day. I do not think I will appeal, though," Hanaghan said.

This is good news for Ryan Moore fans. The champion jockey is likely to return this Friday. "I will be back on the racecourse sometime this week, more likely towards the end of the week than any sooner. The wrist feels all right again now, " Moore stated. He has 103 winners and has a mountain to climb to defend his 2009 title.

We will take a look at Saratoga's weekend action in the next report. I have this terrible habit of being descriptive and that takes up a lot of words. What do you think?

Chicago Tuesday August 31, 2010

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