The chart at the bottom of this post provides a summary of this weekend's stakes action.
Current track conditions can be found at the links below:
Oak Tree at Hollywood Park
Some quick track updates:
- Woodbine is
YIELDING(upgraded to GOOD) today with (so far) no scratches in the three Grade 1 events.
- Keeneland is FIRM with no changes in the QE II Challenge Cup.
- Belmont is SOFT with races 5 and 10 OFF THE TURF (races 1,7,8 remain on the turf). The main track is GOOD.
The rail for the inner turf is at 0 ft, while the Widener is set to 27 ft.
In the Athenia Stakes (race 8), the 6, 10 and 12 have all scratched out.
- Oak Tree at Hollywood is FAST and FIRM, with the turf rail at 12 ft.
Results Update #2:
- If we needed any more evidence to European turf dominance (and North American turf weakness) all you had to do was watch today's three Grade 1 races at Woodbine.
The Nearctic turf sprint was won by a filly (Serious Attitude (IRE)) that hasn't seen the winner's circle since taking the Summer Stakes at York in July of 2009. She's a decent filly, and one that had been facing some good competition in Europe, but she's not even close to what anyone would call a Group 1 animal.
Nearctic favorite Bridgetown never threatened the leaders in deep stretch in his first try at six furlongs; I'm willing to give him a pass in this race since the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint will be at a more friendly five furlongs.
- The E.P. Taylor saw more of the same as the Nearctic as Reggane (GB), a filly that has never won a Group race in Europe in her lifetime, unleashed a big late kick down the lane to easily blow by the leaders under the wire.
Raggane is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup and will not make the trip to Churchill Downs. (UPDATE: the Racing Post is reporting that Raggane will go to the Breeders' Cup, which is in contrast to the report on yesterday's ESPN broadcast that the filly is not nominated and wouldn't go. I have no clue which is correct.)
- In the Canadian International...well, take a guess where the winner has been racing. Aiden O'Brien's Joshua Tree (IRE) completed the European sweep at Woodbine by rallying from mid-pack into a brutally soft pace (1:18+) to win the richest race in Canada.
The fact that Joshua Tree won this race isn't a huge surprise; he was a well-regarded colt as a juvenile but has seen injuries deprive him of much of his three-year-old season and he's just now rounding back into form. At the same time, Joshua Tree is another colt that, while talented, is not considered a top runner in Europe right now.
- At Keeneland, in and oddly run QE II Challenge Cup, Harmonious absolutely stole the race even though she wasn't on the lead for most of it. Long shot Dade Babe and sprinted away from the field in the opening quarter, clicking off the timer in 23+. Harmonious was content to sit five to six lengths behind Dade Babe, clicking off easy fractions as the de facto lone speed. When Dade Babe had run 3/4 of a mile the timer read a brutally slow 1:12+. If Dade Babe went 1:12+ then Harmonious was just loping along behind.
Once Harmonious was asked for more run she had a jump on the co-favorite, Evening Jewel, and was able to put away her chief rival easily at the top of the stretch.
The only European horse in the field, French shipper Zagora (FR), closed from dead last to finish second, a fantastic performance when you consider how slowly the pace was run. If she gets any pace to run at on the front end she's probably your winner. Zagora would be an interesting entry in the Filly and Mare Turf should her connections decide to enter her.
- According to Juddmonte connections, Proviso (GB) will go in the Mile at the Breedes' Cup and Arc winner Workforce (GB) is 50/50 to run in the Turf.
- I don't like to write in absolutes because there is nothing in the sport of horse racing that is "absolute", but it's hard not to think that a bet on any North American horse to win one of the major Breeders' Cup turf races (with maybe the Turf Sprint the exception) is akin to tossing your money in the trash can.
Mediocre-to-average European horses have spent all year kicking North American tail and I don't see it stopping at Churchill Downs. Perhaps it will. Maybe the tight Churchill turf course will help the North Americans to beat the European horses...but I'm not going to bet on it.
Results Update #1:
- Juvenile star Frankel (GB) impressed again with an easy victory in this morning's Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. The son of Galileo will now have the winter off in order to get ready for the 2011 flat season; English bookmakers have priced Frankel around 5/4 to win next spring's 2,000 Guineas.
- Twice Over (GB), winner of the 2009 Champion Stakes and 3rd place finisher in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic, repeated his Newmarket success by winning the 2010 Champion Stakes over Vision D'Etat and Debussy. Twice Over will not be coming to the Breeders' Cup this year.
HRTV will have coverage from Newmarket (UK) this morning beginning at 9:30 EDT / 6:30 PDT. Among the races at Newmarket are the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes (2yos) and the Group 1 Champion Stakes.
The Champion Stakes field includes Debussy (Arlington Million winner), Gitano Hernando, Fussie (Group 1 Prix du Moulin winner), Twice Over (winner of the 2009 Champion Stakes), Vision D'Etat, Poet's Voice, and Wigmore Hall (Secretariat Stakes runner-up).
The Dewhurst will feature Frankel (GB), the dominating winner of the Group 2 Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes last time out, and Dream Ahead, the runaway winner of the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes.
- Today's Grade 1 races from Woodbine will be broadcast on ESPN2 from 4:00 EDT/1:00 PDT to 6:00/3:00.