Diamonds in the Rough: August 24, 2015

Diamonds in the Rough: August 24, 2015

It’s been a busy week for top-notch 2yo racing at Saratoga and Del Mar–let’s catch up on some of the action!


Saratoga Race 1: Maiden Special Weight
5.5 furlongs on dirt

Kiaran McLaughlin’s Sallisaw didn’t get off to the best of starts, but recovered nicely to win in a good performance. After settling on the outside in third place through fractions of :22.24 and :45.58, the son of Exchange Rate moved up to take command inside the eighth pole and battled on to the wire to win by three-quarters of a length in the time of 1:04.31 seconds. Blameiton Brooklyn and Show Bound dueled for the lead throughout the race, with Blameiton Brooklyn edging clear of his rival in the final furlong to finish second by a half-length.

Saratoga Race 4: Adirondack Stakes (gr. II)
6.5 furlongs on dirt

It looks like Ron Winchell and Steve Asmussen have another star filly in their barn! Just Wicked, who broke her maiden in impressive fashion on July 24th, was only the second choice behind Todd Pletcher’s Tonasah, but after racing wide and closing from three lengths back to challenge, Just Wicked out-fought Tonasah in a thrilling stretch battle to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:16.61. Best of all, her pedigree suggests that longer distances will be no trouble at all, making her a very exciting prospect for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies! Tonasah grabbed a clear lead early on through an opening quarter-mile in :22.21 and continued to lead through a half-mile in :45.52, but yielded slightly in the final furlong while running a winning race in defeat. Delicate Lady rallied modestly after a slow start to finish third, eight lengths behind Tonasah.

Saratoga Race 6: Maiden Special Weight for New York-bred Fillies
6 furlongs on dirt

Backwood Bay, a daughter of Girolamo trained by Linda Rice, was a bit of a longshot at 9-1 but unleashed an impressive late run to win by a head. With Jose Ortiz in the saddle, Backwood Bay settled six lengths off the early lead, then began rallying on the outside as the field rounded the turn. She was still 2 3/4 lengths back passing the eighth pole, but finished with determination to triumph in the time of 1:12.12 seconds. Rock Garden, trained by Gary Contessa raced just off the lead in third before taking command in the final furlong and falling just short of victory at odds of nearly 51-1. Todd Pletcher’s Super Surprise dueled for the lead through fractions of :22.73 and :46.29 before tiring slightly to finish third, beaten just three-quarters of a length.

Del Mar Race 3: Maiden Special Weight
5.5 furlongs on dirt

Big Finish broke sharply and blazed the opening quarter-mile in :21.94, but tired from his early exertions to finish fourth. In the meantime, pace-tracking Mt Veeder took the lead after three furlongs and extended his advantage through a half-mile in :45.27 and stayed on strongly to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:04.41 seconds. Trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Ghostzapper looks like a promising candidate for the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) on September 7th. Winning Format, a 50-1 shot, put in a sharp late run from fifth to finish second, 4 1/4 lengths in front of fellow closer Quality Line.

Del Mar Race 7: Maiden Special Weight for California-bred Fillies
5.5 furlongs on dirt

Run for Retts ran an amazing race to score a 27.60-1 upset, dueling hard through fractions of :21.87 and :45.41, opening up a 3 1/2-length lead at the eighth pole, and just holding on to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:04.88 seconds. What a performance! Trained by Steven Miyadi, the daughter of Ministers Wild Cat could be a major contender in California-bred stakes races later this fall, and quite possibly open company as well. Patriotic Diamond, taking advantage of the fast pace, rallied from eighth to finish second, 3 1/4 lengths in front of Tangled Up in Ju, who rallied from tenth to finish third.


Saratoga Race 4: Maiden Special Weight
8.5 furlongs on turf

Todd Pletcher’s Unbridled Daddy was the slight favorite, and after checking in traffic and dropping back to last place through fractions of :49.37 and 1:13.98, the son of Scat Daddy unleashed an exceptional late rally to get up and win by three-quarters of a length. The final time was 1:44.44 seconds. Azar, another Pletcher-trained runner, led for every stride except the final few as he tired late to finish second by a head over Tusk, who settled five lengths back early on before rallying to finish third.

Saratoga Race 6: Maiden Special Weight for Fillies
6 furlongs on dirt

Tap to It had a rough trip early on, breaking slowly and steadying in traffic before settling into eighth place. But despite these troubles, Tap to It finished very strongly after racing wide around the turn, accelerating her final two furlongs in less than :12 seconds apiece to draw off and score by two lengths in 1:10.93 seconds. Trained by Ralph Nicks, this daughter of Tapit looks like a good one! Shayna Lady tracked the pace through fractions of :22.52 and :46.03, opened up a two-length lead passing the eighth pole, and stayed on well to finish second by two lengths over Hyper Nation, who ran an even race to finish a clear third.

Saratoga Race 9: Saratoga Special Stakes (gr. II)
6.5 furlongs on dirt

Exaggerator had stamped himself as a promising colt with an impressive debut win at Del Mar last month, and a cross-country trip to Saratoga for the Saratoga Special paid off with a spectacular victory. After coming under urging early on while in last place, Exaggerator began to advance on the turn, shifted to the inside in the homestretch, and rallied tenaciously through a narrow opening to win by three-quarters of a length. The fact that the son of Curlin was able to rally through such a small opening was very impressive, and at this point, he has to be considered among the favorites–if not the favorite–to win the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) on September 7th. Todd Pletcher’s Saratoga Mischief battled for the lead through an opening quarter-mile in :21.60, took the lead through a half-mile in :45.19, and battled on gamely in the homestretch to finish second by 4 3/4 lengths over Hammers Vision, who rallied mildly from fifth to finish third.

Saratoga Race 10: Maiden Special Weight for Fillies
8.5 furlongs on turf

Silky Girl received a perfect ride from jockey Luis Saez, opening up a clear two-length lead through modest fractions of :23.84, :49.08, and 1:13.96 before accelerating through the final five-sixteenths to hang on and win by a neck in the time of 1:44.28 seconds. Trained by Richard Violette, Jr., the daughter of Scat Daddy looks bound for stakes company next time out. 32-1 shot Wedding Dress, a Godolphin runner trained by Tom Albertrani, tracked the pace throughout before rallying to just miss victory.Girls Secret closed from sixth to finish third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Wedding Dress.

Del Mar Race 8: Maiden Special Weight for Fillies
5.5 furlongs on dirt

My Dynamo was 33-1, but that didn’t stop the Jeff Bonde-trained daughter of Discreetly Mine from triumphing in narrow fashion. Despite racing wide while three lengths behind fractions of :21.79 and :45.05, My Dynamo rallied well in the homestretch to get up and win by a half-length over C. C. Zipp, who dueled for the lead before tiring slightly to finish second. Ceeme Run Wild ran evenly to rally from fifth and finish third, 4 1/4 lengths behind My Dynamo. Escapee, a Bob Baffert-trained first-time starter that went off at 16.70-1, set the pace but tired in the homestretch to miss third by a half-length.


Saratoga Race 5: Maiden Special Weight for New York-breds
5.5 furlongs on turf

Pagan completed a nice week for the young stallion Girolamo when he rallied to win this turf sprint at Saratoga by a neck at odds of 9-1. Trained by Dominick Schettino, Pagan was content to settle in fourth as Ordinaire and Stormin Stephen dueled through fractions of :22.41 and :45.68, then surged in between horses with a late rally to get up and win in the time of 1:03.59 seconds. Stormin Stephen put away Ordinaire in the homestretch to finish second by two lengths over his pace-setting rival.

Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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