At the Gate - Sunday
October 20, 2013
By Mike Dempsey
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One of the best performances yesterday may have come in the early morning, as multiple Grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar put in a solid workout at Belmont Park, going four furlongs in 48.42.
After the filly won the Beldame (G1) over Royal Delta, her connections said she was likely done for the year, which really surprised me despite the fact her connections said she would not race into the fall as she was coming back for her four-year-old season.
However, as the last couple of weeks went by, owner Ed Stanco and trainer Todd Pletcher started to backtrack, and after her morning drill yesterday it is all systems go for a shot at the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1).
A victory would give her five consecutive Grade 1 wins on the year. She is the first filly ever to sweep the Grade 1's Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club of America Oaks, Alabama and Beldame.
A fifth Grade 1 in the Distaff would put her squarely in the running for Horse of the Year.
The frontrunner for that honor right now is Game On Dude, who is perfect in five starts this year, with a pair of Grade 2 wins and three Grade 1 victories.
The Bob Baffert trainee has come up short in the last two runnings of the $5 million Classic, and if he does not show up like last year when he was seventh as the betting favorite, the filly could be the beneficiary.
2012 Horse of the year Wise Dan has won five of six starts this year, with two Grade 2 wins and a trio of Grade 1 wins. He came up short in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) last out, the race washed off the turf and contested on the polytrack.
An impressive repeat in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) would be a strong statement for another trophy for Horse of the Year.
Princess of Sylmar is going to have to beat Royal Delta twice in a row and that is no easy task. In addition, there will be other talented runners showing up for the Distaff including Beholder and Close Hatches.
For me, the Distaff is going to be one of races I am looking forward to the most. It is a shame that the race is carded for Friday, meaning many fans that have jobs could miss a performance that could produce the Horse of the Year.
The Breeders' Cup really needs to look at putting the Distaff on Saturday's card in the future.
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Here is today's opening from Keeneland to get the day off to a good start:
KEE Race 1 Md $50,000 (1:05 ET)
5 Holy Harbour 3-1
3 Mad Princess 4-1
8 Free Release 5-2
2 Rose of Harlan 5-1
Analysis: Holy Harbour drops in for a tag for her second career start for the Kenneally barn. In her debut on the main track at Churchill Downs she stalked the early pace from the outside and tired to finish a well beaten ninth at 7-1 in a field of 11. She tires poly now for a barn that is 30% winners (with a +ROI) with second out maidens. The filly is by Holy Bull out of a stakes placed Full Mandate mare, her first foal to race.
Mad Princess is 0 for 8 and now drops in for a tag for the first time here. Last out the filly pressed the early pace and weakened inside the final furlong to finish fourth going a mile on turf. She has shown some ability, running second at Ellis Park and a third on Tapeta back in June at Presque Isle. She catches a softer spot here and is in light with the seven pound bug.
WIN: #5 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 2,3,5,8
TRI: 3,5 / 2,3,5,8 / 2,3,5,6,8
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 8 The Dream Rush (4:34 ET)
4 Asiya 2-1
3 Uno Duo 9-5
6 Miss Mischief 10-1
8 Merry Meadow 6-1
Analysis: Asiya cuts back to sprint and drops in class after being in too tough last out in the Cotillion (G1) at Philly, checking in sixth. The filly was a good looking Alw-1 winner two back at the Spa off a seven moth layoff, drawing away to win by 8 1/4 lengths. The runner up in that race was Close Encounter, who came back to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in her next outing on Sept. 27 at Laurel Park. This is her third start off the bench and the McLaughlin barn is 30% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from route to sprint.
Uno Duo was a good-looking winner last out against Alw-1 foes going seven furlongs at the Spa, earning the top last out speed fig in the effort. She comes back here off a three-month break for the Mott barn that is 22% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. She put in a quick breeze over the Spa training track and has shown improvement each time the Hall of fame trainer has sent her out.
WIN: #4 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 3,4 / 3,4,6,8
TRI: 3,4 / 3,4,6,8 / 3,4,6,7,8
Today's Featured Races of the Day from Keeneland:
KEE Race 8 The Dowager (4:49 ET)
10 Left a Message 6-1
8 Kissable 7-2
2 Preferential 4-1
9 Beijoca 9-2
Analysis: Left a Message made a mild late run to finish fourth last out in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon behind a couple of runners she runs into again today. The Tom Proctor trainee has a win at the 1 1/2 mile distance, taking the Flaming Page two back at Woodbine. The runner up in that race was Sky High Page, who returned to beat allowance foes in her next start at Kentucky Downs and then won the River Memories Stakes at Woodbine on Saturday. This gal is worth a look to turn the tables here if we catch most of the 6-1 morning line.
Kissable stalked the early pace form the inside and finished evenly for fifth last out in the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont Park, beaten four lengths for the top spot. She drops into an easier spot her while she has only won one of eight starts since arriving in the U.S. and lands with the Roger Attfield barn, she has been facing mostly tougher. Her one win state side came in the Waya last summer over yielding turf at today's 1 1/2 mile distance. She looks like a good fit here dropping out of Grade 1 company.
Preferential tracked the early lead, headed for home with a clear lead and could not hold off the winner in deep stretch in the Ladies Marathon, beaten a neck for the top spot. She is 0 for 4 since coming to the U.S. but comes in here off a career top speed fig and she is making her third start of her current form cycle. She has enough pedigree to handle the distance and won a stake at Chantilly in France last September at the distance.
WIN: #10 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 8,10 / 2,8,9,10
TRI: 8,10 / 2,8,9,10 / 2,6,8,9,10
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R1: #1 Gone Country 8-1
R2: #5 Compass Rose 8-1
R2: #1 Likeuasafriend 8-1
R4: #3 Indigene Charm 10-1
R5: #8 Waynesborough 20-1
R6: #3 Quiet Kiss 8-1
R8: #6 Miss Mischief 10-1
R10: #1 Boardwalk Baron 8-1
Good luck today!
HORSE RACING EXPERT
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
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