Thursday, September 30, 2010

Heavy rain in France and England as big races draw close: Freshman boys and girls hold center stage on Friday at Newmarket

Rain is dampening enthusiasm and causing drastic changes in the plans of big racing stables as major races are looming large in Europe. Newmarket has two Group I races, the Middle Park Stakes and the Cheveley Park stakes, that will be the co-features on Friday. There has been heavy rainfall and more rain is on the way.

Across the channel, rain is playing havoc in Paris. Doubts have been expressed about some well-backed contenders running at week’s end. The Arc on Sunday is likely to have 20 runners but there is every chance that a smaller field will go postward.

Here is news that is headline material. Goldikova may not run in Sunday’s Prix de la Foret. Freddie Head, Goldikova’s trainer, issued a statement on Thursday. “We’ll wait until the last possible moment. If it rains a lot, Goldikova won’t run in the Foret and she will go directly to the Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 6. The mare is in great form.”

Two high profile withdrawals were announced on Thursday. Snow Fairy, Ed Dunlop’s dual Oaks-winning filly, will not travel to the French capital. She was scheduled to go in the Prix de l’Opera. Trainer Dunlop cited deteriorating weather in Paris. Native Khan, the unbeaten (two starts) freshman, will not line up for the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere. Dunlop has said that Snow Fairy may take her chances in Newmarket’s Champion Stakes on October 16. Native Khan’s next target is either the Dewhurst Stakes or the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

There is one British contender for the Arc who has been given the green light. Workforce, a disappointment in the King George after a romp in the Epsom Derby, worked satisfactorily on Thursday at Newmarket and will be in Sunday’s Arc field. There was an immediate shake up in the Arc market.

Let us a take a look at Friday’s Newmarket plums. The third race is the 1200-metre Group I Cheveley Park Stakes. It is for freshman girls. Eleven run. Hooray looks for three wins in a row and is owned by the sponsors of the race. Although she needs to find more, Hooray has shown a progressive trend and may be able to manage the step-up. The soft going will have a big impact on several runners.

The fourth race is the Group I Shadwell Middle Park Stakes. It is also a 1200-metre contest for entire (freshman) colts. Dream Ahead is two for two in his career. After making a winning debut, Dream Ahead, trained by David Simcock, won the Group I Prix Morny at Deauville next time out. Soft going will help Dream Ahead’s cause. William Buick will ride Dream Ahead. Eight colts will go to the starting gate.

Blame faces seven rivals in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup to be run at Belmont Park (New York) on Saturday. Trainer Al Stall Jr, has exuded optimism about his trainee and is using Saturday’s race as the prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Blame seeks his sixth consecutive win. The Stephen Foster and the Whitney are Grade I races that Blame has won this year.

Racing at Belmont Park on Thursday was cancelled because of heavy rain. The flight bringing Blame to New York from Kentucky was cancelled as well. The flight has been scheduled for early Friday. Paddy O’Prado, favorite in the Grade I Hirsch Turf Classic, will travel in the same plane. There are three other Grade I races on Saturday. Females will go on the turf in the Flower Bowl. Then there is the Beldame for fillies and mares on the dirt. Finally, the Vosburgh over 1400 metres on the dirt will also be run. There are eleven races on Saturday at Belmont Park. Dry weather is forecast for Saturday.

Fly Down, Mythical Power, Tranquil Manner, Dry Martini, Haynesfield, Hold Me Back and Rail Trip will oppose Blame in the Gold Cup to be run over 2000 metres. This is the first time that Blame will run over 2000 metres.

Hoosier Park hosts the Grade II $500,000 Indiana Derby on Saturday. Hoosier Park is in Anderson, Indiana and is a three-hour drive from Chicago. Looking At Lucky takes on eight sophomores in the 1700-metre test on the dirt. A Bob Baffert trainee, Looking At Lucky won the Preakness in May and the Haskell Invitational in early August. Martin Garcia comes in from southern California to ride. Despite missing a month of training owing to an illness, Looking At Lucky has had four workouts since September 8.

Also on tap on Saturday at Hoosier Park is the Grade II $200,000 Indiana Oaks. There are other big prizes in that Hoosier Park card.

Now we come to Zenyatta. The Street Cry mare is heavily favored to win the Grade I Lady’s Secret on Saturday at Hollywood Park. She is 18 for 18 and a victory on Saturday will put her on par with Pepper’s Pride who retired with a 19 for 19 record. Zenyatta faces five adversaries.

Jockey Mike Smith talked about Zenyatta getting good this time of year. “She seems to get good at this time of year the last few years, The way she is going, she seems like she can do it again this year.”

Trainer John Shirreffs said, “she has been so consistent all the time. She has been the same all year long. It is unbelievable.”

There are 10 races at Hollywood Park. There are three other Grade I races. You have the Norfolk Stakes for freshmen. There is the Yellow Ribbon on the turf for distaffers. Goodwood Stakes, for three year-olds and up, will also be showcased.

Here is an update on the English riding title. Paul Hanaghan won with Heartbreak, a 3/1 chance trained by Richard Fahey, at Ayr. Richard Hughes rode two winners at Kempton for Jeremy Noseda. It was a twilight meeting. Hughes scored with Zip Lock, the 10/11 chalk and with Illustrious Prince, a 4/1 chance. Hanaghan leads Hughes 162-153.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

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