Welcome to “The Weekend Accolades,” a weekly series in which we’ll look back on the previous week of racing and hand out a few informal awards to horses, trainers, jockeys, etc. that achieved notable feats in racing. Enjoy!
Performances of the Week: Divisidero in the Pennine Ridge and Lady Eli in the Wonder Again
I’m not going to try and split hairs–both Divisidero and Lady Eli were simply spectacular in their stakes victories over the weekend, and both are thoroughly deserving of our Performance of the Week award. Divisidero had a nightmare trip in the nine-furlong Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont Park, as he stumbled at the start and banged the starting gate–which caused his jockey to lose a stirrup–and after dropping well behind a slow pace, Divisidero had to make a strong early move to reach contention, which caused him to be caught four-wide throughout the race. Despite these obstacles, he flew home his final three furlongs in about :34 2/5 to win by a neck over the very promising colt Takeover Target. Wow!
Lady Eli was equally impressive in the nine-furlong Wonder Again Stakes. Sent off as the favorite at 1-5, the unbeaten filly found herself trapped in traffic throughout the race, unable to get out in the clear as the leaders waltzed through slow fractions of :25.06, :51.10, and 1:15.95. After that, the pace began to accelerate dramatically, and it appeared possible that Lady Eli would be unable to catch the leaders even if she could find a clear path. However, in the homestretch, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. was able to shift Lady Eli to the outside, and the filly’s response was explosive. In the blink of an eye, she had her rivals measured, and she crossed the wire without urging from Ortiz to win by a half-length. Incredibly, she ran the final three furlongs in about :33 1/5 and the final furlong in about :10 4/5. Amazing!
Veteran of the Week: Alsvid
This honor simply must go to Alsvid, who is just now reaching the best form of his career at the age of six. He showed promise right from the start, winning the Kip Deville Stakes as a juvenile and a quartet of small stakes races as a three-year-old, but fell into a bit of slump in 2013 and 2014, winning only three races from thirteen starts, with his victories coming at Zia Park and Prairie Meadows. But following a couple of defeats at the start of 2015, Alsvid has now won three straight races, including the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (gr. III) on April 9th at Oaklawn Park and the May 30th Aristides Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs. In the latter race, Alsvid was sent off as the distant second choice behind Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Work All Week, but took command from the heavy favorite in the homestretch to win by a decisive two lengths. With two graded stakes races under his belt so far this year, Alsvid is having the best season of his career thus far–let’s hope that he can keep it up for the rest of the year!
Thrilling Finish of the Week: The Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Stakes
It’s hard to top the thrilling finish that we witnessed in the five-furlong Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup Stakes on May 30th! With an eighth of a mile to go, Bold Thunder was leading by 1 1/2 lengths, with Amelia’s Wild Ride in second by two lengths over favored Ben’s Cat. But coming down to the finish, the margins narrowed dramatically as Bold Thunder began to tire and Ben’s Cat started rallying strongly. In the shadow of the wire, Amelia’s Wild Ride stuck his neck in front of Bold Thunder and just barely held off Ben’s Cat to win by a nose in the sharp time of :55 1/5. What a race!