In 1975, when I landed in America, Cleveland was the first city I lived in. Thistledown in North Randall, a suburb of Cleveland, was the first racetrack (thoroughbred) I went to. Last Saturday, Thistledown hosted the Grade III $100,000 Ohio Derby for sophomores. The 1700-metre race on the main (dirt) track resulted in a victory for Pleasant Prince, the 18/10 favorite. It was the first stakes win for Pleasant Prince, by Indy King (by A P Indy) out of Archduchessby by Pleasant Tap. After winning a maiden race at Churchill Downs as a freshman, Pleasant Prince had run up a seven-race losing streak. Worldly, fancied by many, came within a nose of Pleasant Prince who had been touched off by Ice Box in the Florida Derby in March.
Pleasant Prince was bought for $30,000 by Sarah and Ken Ramsey. The affable Alex Solis rode Pleasant Prince who is trained by Wesley Ward. The 1700-metre Ohio Derby was run in 1 43.9 seconds on a fast track.
Dakota Phone had suffered 16 consecutive losses but had raced well in most of those outings. In the Grade II $200,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Saturday, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Dakota Phone was a 47/10 chance. The favorite’s role went to Battle of Hastings who was at 3-1. The 17th attempt to break the negative spell proved to be the charm. Ridden by Joel Rosario, Dakota Phone won by one half length. By Zavata (Phone Trick) out of World Of Good by Spinning World, Dakota Phone will now go in the Pacific Classic on August 28. The time was 1 43.55 seconds for the 1800-metre San Diego Handicap.
The Ruffian Handicap, a Grade I 1800-metre race was run at Saratoga on Sunday. Six ran. Malibu Prayer, a daughter of Malibu Moon, won going away. The margin was a length and three quarters. The time was 1 48.14 seconds. The red hot John Velasquez rode Malibu Prayer, a 47/20 chance. Unrivaled Belle, who holds the distinction of Rachel Alexandra this year, ran second as the 65/100 favorite.
We will take a look at the Grade I Bing Crosby contested on Sunday at Del Mar. Bing Crosby, the famous singer and entertainer, was a devoted racegoer. Smiling Tiger got away alertly, set pressure-free fractions and went on to win by a length and a half. The time was 1 09.21 seconds for the 1200-metre trip. Scenic Blast headed the beaten brigade. E Z’s Gentlemen took third. Cost Of Freedom, the 3/5 favorite ridden by Rafael Bejarano, broke in the air, bobbled, was rushed up and was a spent force with 400 metres to go.
Victor Espinoza was aboard Smiling Tiger, a son of Hold That Tiger. The win payoff was $17.80 on a $2.00 ticket. Smiling Tiger was making his first start against older and the only three year-old in the race. The $250,000 Bing Crosby was the first Grade I win for trainer Jeff Blonde.
Trainer Blonde commented. “I thought he (Smiling Tiger) would be one run short because of an illness. I had to pray he was not one run short when on the lead coming into the final turn. He came up with a nice win.”
Monday’s big race at Saratoga was the $150,000 Amsterdam for three year-olds on the main track. Discreetly Mine, one time contender for the Kentucky Derby in which he finished 13th, showed he had found his right distance when sprinting away to a nine-length win. John Velasquez rode for Todd Pletcher. Discreetly Mine paid $3.20. That was the sixth stakes win for John Velasquez at Saratoga. The Amsterdam was over 1300 metres and the time was 1 14.27 seconds. The 1400-metre King’s Bishop on August 28 is the target for Discreetly Mine.
Todd Pletcher spoke. “He trained very well all winter and we thought he was on the Derby trail as a legitimate contender. Now, we have backed up in distance and he has really found his niche.”
Desert Party has been retired. A son of Street Cry and the property of Sheikh Mohammed, Desert Party won six races from 10 starts for $928,467. A soft tissue injury was cited as the reason. Desert Party ran 14th in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and he returned with a chip in the left front ankle. He won the Sanford in 2008. In 2009, the Saeed bin Suroor trainee won an allowance event and the Grade III 2000 Guineas at Nad Al Sheba. In 2010, Desert Party won the $200,000 Don Levine Memorial Handicap at Philadelphia Park in late June.
Lookin At Lucky is out of the Travers. The Haskell winner had a temperature after the Haskell. He will stay at Monmouth and get treated. The August 28 Travers is off the table according to Mike Pegram, owner of the Preakness-Haskell champion.
Here is news from San Diego. Joe Talamo was unseated on Thursday at Del Mar during the running of the third race. Rockstar Ben, Talamo’s mount, broke the right foreleg and fell and was euthanized. Jockey Talamo fell and fractured his wrist. X-rays have confirmed the injury. Talamo will be out of action until end of September when Santa Anita opens.
The 20 year-old Talamo has 10 wins at Del Mar. He has 96 wins from 774 rides this year. His mounts have earned $5.2 million.
Here are some numbers from America. First, here are the top three horses. Super Saver has $1,715,200 in his account. Lookin At Lucky has $1,470,000. Paddy O’Prado has won $1,089,950.
Among jockeys, John Velasquez has 137 wins from 657 starts. His money stands at $8,701,494. Ramon Dominguez has 215 wins from 842 rides. His bankroll is $8,648,772. Rafael Bejarano has 800 rides and 180 wins. His money tally is $8,560,143. Joel Rosario has won 170 races from 791 outings for earnings of $7,168,096.
Let us take a look at the owners. Winstar Farm has 21 wins from 130 starters for earnings of $4,127,214. Midwest Thoroughbreds have won 176 times from 642 starts. They have $2,601,944 in purse money. Maggi Moss has 122 wins from 394 races. There is $2,260,287 in the account. Heilibrodt Racing Stables have 83 wins from 480 starters for earnings of $2,531,675.
Steve Asmussen has 331 wins from 1555 starts in the training division. He has $10,067,112 in his account. Todd Pletcher has 176 wins from 636 races. He is top in earnings with $14,017,156. Jerry Hollendorfer has scored 159 times from 639 tries for earnings of $5,163,246. Bob Baffert, Lookin At Lucky’s trainer, has 73 wins from 291 starters. He has $6,445,148.
I took these numbers from the NTRA site.
On Saturday, Meadowlands will host the Hambletonian, the most prestigious trotting race in North America. There are 15 races and the first race is at 11 35 AM Eastern time. We will devote a paragraph or two to the Meadowlands in my next blog.