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. This week, we’ve got five awards to hand out, including a couple of new ones. Enjoy!
Veteran of the Week: Majestic City
How can you not be a fan of a horse like six-year-old Majestic City, who seems to have finally regained his best form after more than three years? The speedy son of City Zip showed great promise as a juvenile in 2011, winning his first three starts–including a pair of stakes, one of them graded–before finishing third in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and second in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I). But after a thirteenth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I), Majestic City went off-form and didn’t win another race until October 2013, and following another eight-race losing streak, he found himself at Lone Star Park on Memorial Day to run in the $200,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III). Tapiture and Carve were the two favorites, but Majestic City stole the show–and the race–by going straight to the lead and waltzing through fractions of :24.01, :47.06, and 1:11.43. Carve put in a good run to challenge in the homestretch, and drew within a head of the lead at the eighth pole, but Majestic City gamely turned him back to win by two lengths in the time of 1:43.31 for 8.5 furlongs over a sloppy, sealed track. It’s great to see him back in peak form after all these years, and here’s hoping that there are many more highlights still to come in Majestic City’s racing career!
Overlooked Performance of the Week: A Lot in the Paradise Creek Stakes
It can be easy to overlook a $100,000 turf sprint stakes for three-year-olds on a quiet Saturday, but it could pay to keep an eye on the winner of the seven-furlong Paradise Creek Stakes on May 23rd at Belmont Park. The favorite at 0.55-1 was A Lot, and he lived up to expectations by scoring a decisive 5 3/4-length victory. But it was the way A Lot accomplished the victory that suggests he could be a future star. After tracking the pace through modest fractions of :24.27 and :47.91 over a very fast turf course, A Lot seized command through six furlongs in 1:10.63 and flew home the final furlong in an amazing :11.08 to win under a hand ride in the time of 1:21.71. Wow! Trained by Bill Mott, A Lot looks like a future turf star, but if that’s the case, then how good is Divisidero, who beat A Lot fairly and squarely in the American Turf Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs earlier this month?
Surprising Odds of the Week: Blingismything at 25-1 in the Gamely Stakes
The Gamely Stakes (gr. I) on Memorial Day at Santa Anita looked like a wide-open race on paper, and the bettors agreed, sending off eight of the ten horses at less than 16-1. But some of the odds were rather surprising given the past performances of the horses. Case in point–Blingismything was 6-1 on the morning line after winning the Wilshire Stakes (gr. III) by a nose in her last start. But in the actual Gamely Stakes wagering, Blingismything was allowed to go off at 25.50-1, making her the second-longest shot in the field! Anyone that used her in the exotics was rewarded nicely when she finished third, beaten just three-quarters of a length, and rounded out a $1 trifecta worth $367.40. On a side note, Smoove It–the filly that finished second in the Wilshire–was sent off at 13.10-1.
Jockey of the Week: Tyler Baze
Tyler Baze had a great day at Santa Anita on Saturday, winning three of the biggest stakes races of afternoon. It started with a three-length victory aboard heavily-favored Sunday Rules in the $150,000 Spring Fever Stakes, continued with a romping 7 1/4-length triumph riding Sheer Pleasure in the $200,000 Melair Stakes, and concluded with a thrilling 3/4-length win aboard Motown Men in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes. Just for good measure, Tyler Baze added a victory in a Sunday allowance race to his weekend win total, and on Memorial Day, he rode Blingismything to a third-place finish in the Gamely Stakes (gr. I). That’s quite a week!
Performance of the Week: Al Kazeem in the Tattersalls Gold Cup
Two years ago, Al Kazeem won the first group I race of his career when he defeated the talented Camelot in the 2013 Tattersalls Gold Cup, which kicked off a three-race winning streak in group I company that also included the prestigious Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. One retirement, one comeback, and two seasons later, the seven-year-old Al Kazeem finally won another group I race when he claimed victory in the 2015 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on Sunday. The race favorite was The Grey Gatsby, winner of the Irish Champion Stakes (Ire-I) last September, but when The Grey Gatsby failed to produce his typical strong run in the Gold Cup homestretch, Al Kazeem was ready to take advantage. After gamely bulling his way between horses to seize command of the lead, Al Kazeem was confronted by the late-running Fascinating Rock, who was charging strongly and appeared to have enough momentum to win the race. But Al Kazeem dug deep and refused to be beaten, hanging on to prevail by a neck in a thrilling performance. Welcome back, Al Kazeem!
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