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WEEKEND REVIEW: Fantasia Finally Breaks Through; Indiano Rolls at Calder

Another weekend with a lot of very good graded stakes action around the country.  A list of all the graded stakes winners from this past weekend can be found at the bottom of the post.

-There were four graded sprints at Calder on Sunday, all of which were at six furlongs and all run consecutively at the end of the card, making it easy to compare the all four in terms of time.  Below is a snap shot of the pace for each of the winners in those four stakes races.

Race Age/Sex Winner 1/4 1/2 Finish
G3-Azalea 3yo, f Devilish Lady 22.68 46.13 1:11.70
G2-Carry Back 3yo Indiano 22.45 45.68 1:10.60
G2-Smile 3up Giant Ryan 22.56 45.78 1:11.34
G1-Princess Rooney 3up, f&m Sassy Image 23.96 46.32 1:11.61

A very, very nice performance by the three-year-old colt Indiano in the Carry Back, as he was about ¾ of a second faster than the next fastest winner, Giant Ryan, and a full second faster than both of the female sprint winners, Devilish Lady and Sassy Image.

Indiano is a three-year-old colt by Indian Charlie trained by Marty Wolfson.

-Fantasia (GB), after coming up short in graded race after graded race, finally broke through at Arlington Park and won the G3-Modesty Handicap. Since coming to America from Europe, Fantasia had won just one time in nine starts (a listed stake at Woodbine last October). She has faced graded competition six times prior to her win in the Modesty, finishing no worse than fifth and no better than second. 

Wasted Tears attempted to win the Modesty the way she's won every other race in her career - making every yard on the front end of the field - but on Saturday the distance appeared to get to her in the final furlong where she had little kick after putting up solid fractions of 23.85, 48.09 and 1:11.95. While Wasted Tears is a talented and classy mare, she is clearly not at her best at distances over a mile, which makes her a horse without without a home in terms of the Breeders' Cup. She doesn't seem like a mare that's going to want the distance of the Filly & Mare Turf but she'd have to face the males (and Goldikova) if she wants to run at her preferred distance of a mile.

-By winning the G2-American Derby on Saturday, Wilcox Inn has staked his position as the top turf horse at Arlington Park this season. After winning the Arlington Classic in fairly easy fashion back on May 28th, Wilcox Inn returned on Saturday to post an even easier four length victory over Suntracer and Derby Kitten. If Wilcox Inn were to win the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on August 12th, he would be the first horse to sweep the Mid-American Triple - Arlington Classic, American Derby, Secretariat Stakes - since Honor Glide in 1997.

That's now back-to-back stakes races where Suntracer has finished 2nd to Wilcox Inn at Arlington Park.  He'll likely get a chance to reverse the trend in the G1-Secretariat on August 12th.

-Tajaaweed unleashed a furious rally in the final half mile of the G2-Arlington Handicap to beat Mister Marti Gras by a length and a half at the wire in the final local tune-up for the Arlington Million. According to the Formulator Interactive Charts, Tajaaweed ran the final ½ mile in a blistering 46.92 with a 23.65 final quarter mile. 

-Hollywood Gold Cup winner First Dude was the only horse in the field to run the final quarter mile in under 25 seconds on Saturday (24.78). Game on Dude and Twirling Candy clocked near identical 25.27 and 25.29 times while battling in the stretch, all the while First Dude gained ground on the outside to get up by a nose.

-After watching the replay of the Gold Cup again last night and I am still shaking my head at Twirling Candy hanging badly in the stretch after getting the perfect set-up all the way around the track.

I would disagree with the ESPN commentary that Twirling Candy was distance challenged, which is why he didn't win the Gold Cup. Finishing a neck behind 1st and 2nd in a 10 furlong race doesn't suggest distance limitations to me; had he truly been distanced limited he would have spit the bit and finished well back of the top-two. Two races back trainer John Sadler took the shades off Twirling Candy in an attempt to get him to settle down a bit more in the early stages and to avoid him pulling the rider down the backstretch. That move was successful in settling down Twirling Candy but you wonder if he needs a bit more focus in the stretch. When I watched the stretch drive of the Gold Cup I didn't see a tired horse but a horse that simply hung.

-Gio Ponti will go to the Arlington Million for his next start after finishing 2nd in the G1-Man o'War on Saturday. Given his issues with races beyond a mile and a quarter, as well as being compromised by a slow pace scenario, it's not surprising that trainer Christophe Clement is once again pointing Gio Ponti to the Breeders' Cup Mile.


Race Track Cond. Dist. Winner Odds
G1-Man o'War BEL 3up 11.0 (T) Cape Blanco (IRE) 3.05
G1-Hollywood Gold Cup HOL 3up 10.0 (S) First Dude 4.10
G1-Princess Rooney CRC 3up, f&m 6.0 (D) Sassy Image 1.60
G2-Smile Sprint CRC 3up 6.0 (D) Giant Ryan 2.70
G2-Delaware Oaks DEL 3yo, f 8+70 (D) St. John's River 1.00
G2-Carry Back CRC 3yo 6.0 (D) Indiano 0.70
G2-American Derby AP 3yo 8.5 (T) Wilcox Inn 2.10
G2-Swaps Stakes HOL 3yo 9.0 (S) Dreamy Kid 19.00
G3-Robert Dick Memorial DEL 3up, f&m 11.0 (T) Cheetah (GB) 1.90
G3-Azalea CRC 3yo, f 6.0 (D) Devilish Lady 9.70
G3-Modesty Hcp. AP 3up, f&m 8.5 (T) Fantasia (GB) 3.90
G3-Arlington Hcp. AP 3up 10.0 (T) Tajaaweed 2.70
Long Branch MTH 3yo 8.5 (D) Rattlesnake Bridge 1.20
G2-Dance Smartly WO 3up, f&m 9.0 (T) Never Retreat 4.05


European Group Stakes

Race Track Dist. Winner
G2-Summer Mile Stakes  Ascot 8.0 (T) Dick Turpin
G2-Superlative Stakes Newmarket 7.0 (T) Red Duke
G1-July Cup Newmarket 6.0 (T) Dream Ahead