Another excellent weekend of racing action across the country, especially as both the Saratoga and Del Mar enter their final phases. Havre de Grace gets a big test in the Woodward (post time 5:45 Easter; TV: Versus), while Sidney's Candy will attempt to win a Grade 1 sprint on the main track. Juveniles take center stage at Del Mar in the Debutante, while Arlington Park will host the G3-Washington Park Handicap.
Happy Labor Day weekend to everyone; may your skies be blue and your BBQs hot. Here are some quick thoughts on some of this weekend's racing action:
- The first race at Saratoga today is the listed Paris Opera stakes at one mile on the grass. The intriguing filly of the field is 7-Deluxe, a first time North American starter after racing in France for the first six starts of her career. Deluxe is 6-3-1-0 in her career and, like many European horses that are brought across the Atlantic during the spring and summer; she appears to be a better horses on firmer footing.
The pedigree on this filly is through the charts: Deluxe is by Storm Cat out of the fantastic broodmare Hasili (IRE) (Kahyasi (IRE)). Among her half-siblings are Banks Hill (IRE), Cacique (IRE), Champs Elysees (GB), and Intercontinental (GB). That's some pretty good company to keep.
Deluxe has won a couple of listed stakes at Lonchamp (Prix de Liancourt and Prix de la Grange aux Belles) and finished 2nd by a half-length to Sarafina (FR) in the G1-Prix Saint-Alary. The two poorest performances of her career came over ground rated as "Soft".
At 2/1 on the morning line Deluxe isn't going to sneak past anyone, but she looks like the class of this field.
- There is some serious dollars in horse flesh in the maiden special weight races on today's Saratoga card. Race 2 features Da Vinci, a Magnier - Smith - Tabor first time starter that cost a cool $600k at last September's Keeneland Sale. Da Vini is trained by Todd Pletcher and is 7/2 on the ML.
In the seventh race, the late Jess Jackson's Stonerstreet Stables sends out Hierro, a first time starter by Hard Spun out of a Navarone mare (Brief Bliff). Hierro sold for $350k last March.
Ask The Moon is the lone speed of the G1-Personal Ensign and should have everything her own way every step of the way. I don't like taking low odds on a horse trying to stretch out its speed for the first time, but when they are guaranteed to be all alone in that quest, it is a lot more inviting.
I like Jackson Bend in the Forego; he should be able to sit right off of Sidney's Candy, Golddigger's Boy and Regal Ransom in the early stages and move to the front as they round the far turn.
Havre de Grace is a deserving favorite in the Woodward but I like the way the race sets up for Flat Out from a pace perspective. I'm also unsure as to how Havre de Grace will perform in her first try over the Saratoga surface.
Midnight Interlude took to grass nicely in his debut at Hollywood but could do no better than 4th in the G2-La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 13th. He'll need to improve in this spot if he wants to deny the very classy Banned.