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!
Performance of the Week: Undrafted in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes
The most exciting race of the week was probably the six-furlong Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot in England, in which Undrafted became the first U.S.-based horse in history to win a group I race at the prestigious meet. Trained by Wesley Ward and ridden by Frankie Dettori, Undrafted was reserved at the back of the pack early on, but made strong progress in the final furlongs to seize command of the lead close to home and defeat Australian star Brazen Beau by about a half-length. What a race!
He may not be old–he’s just three years old!–but Mr. Z qualifies as a true veteran in every sense, having run at least once a month since his debut last June while competing strictly in stakes company, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. His consistency, durability, and talent finally got rewarded on Saturday when the son of Malibu Moon pulled off an upset victory in the $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown, triumphing by a nose over Tencendur and Divining Rod after a long battle in the homestretch. Three cheers for Mr. Z–he’s finally a stakes winner!
Thrilling Finish of the Week: The Summertime Oaks
It’s hard to find a stretch run more exciting than the one we witnessed in the Summertime Oaks (gr. II) on Saturday at Santa Anita, in which 2-5 favorite Stellar Wind and third choice Tara’s Tango hooked up on the final turn and remained locked together with nothing between them right down to the finish. Tara’s Tango tried her best to pull the upset, and clung to a tenacious lead passing the eighth pole, but Stellar Wind demonstrated great determination to stick her head in front at the wire and win by a nose. If both fillies remain in California for this summer, perhaps we’re going to see an exciting rivalry unfold!
He hasn’t attracted national attention yet, but A. P. Indian is quietly compiling a very strong record in sprint races and might have an opportunity to seize command of a division that lacks leadership right now. A lightly-raced five-year-old son of Indian Charlie, A. P. Indian only made five starts during the first three season of his career (from 2012-2014), but has gotten four races under his belt this year and has won three of them. He became a stakes winner on May 9th when he won the six-furlong Decathlon Stakes at Monmouth Park in the sharp time of 1:09.50 (graded stakes winner Favorite Tale finished second by 2 3/4 lengths), and he posted another impressive performance to win the seven-furlong Donald Levine Memorial Handicap on Saturday at Parx by 2 1/4 lengths over Stallwalkin’ Dude. For those efforts, A. P. Indian received Beyer speed figures of 105 and 104, among the highest figures earned in sprint races thus far this year. Owned by Green Lantern Stables and trained by Arnaud Delacour, A. P. Indian appears bound for graded stakes company in the very near future, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we see him in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint later this year.
Jockey of the Week: Ryan Moore
It’s almost impossible to fathom what Ryan Moore accomplished last week at Royal Ascot. During the five-day meet — comprised of 30 races — Moore won a record nine races, including three apiece on June 16th and June 18th, meaning that he won half of the races on those cards. When you consider the quality of the competition at Royal Ascot, and the size of some of the fields–over thirty horses in some cases–Moore’s accomplishment is nothing short of astonishing!