© Benoit Photo
Another fantastic weekend of racing has come and gone, and there’s plenty of action to recap! Here are my thoughts on some of the best races over the weekend:
- Frosted is an iron horse–if not an iron horse in the sense of Discovery or Kelso, then at least an iron horse by modern-day standards. The Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) marked his eighth start in the last nine months, his ninth consecutive start in a graded stakes race, and his 12th start overall. He hasn’t had a meaningful break since he started his career at Saratoga as a 2yo in 2014, but despite his busy racing schedule–and the fact that he was coming back just three weeks after a testing effort in the Travers Stakes (gr. I)–Frosted turned in arguably the best performance of his career thus far to win the Pennsylvania Derby. Visually, his performance was stunning–after saving ground a few lengths off the lead, Frosted moved up strongly on the far turn, shifted out to engage front-running Iron Fist, and then burst into the lead with a bold run to win under a hand ride by two lengths. What made this performance even more impressive was the fact that Iron Fist wasn’t stopping, and was in fact full of run down the homestretch–he left the rest of the field eight lengths behind while finishing second. Most amazingly of all, Frosted appeared to have a ton left in the tank down the homestretch, and the fact that he ran the final furlong in a blazing :11.97 seconds–very rare in a two-turn dirt race–suggests that he did indeed have a lot left to give. Up to this point, Frosted has been considered more of the second- or third-best three-year-old in training, but after his stunning effort in the Pennsylvania Derby, I’m starting to wonder if he might be a legitimate contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
- The three-year-old filly division has been in a state of confusion this year, with the best fillies taking turns beating each other in all the top races, but I’m a Chatterbox take a big step toward claiming leadership of the division with an impressive win in the Cotillion Stakes (gr. I). She received almost exactly the same trip as Frosted, saving ground before shifting out on the final turn and rallying strongly in the homestretch to win going away by two lengths. It was her first official grade I win of the season (she was disqualified from first in the grade I Coaching Club American Oaks), but she’s been remarkably consistent this year, winning the Cotillion (gr. I), Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. III), and Silverbulletday Stakes while placing in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), Alabama Stakes (gr. I), and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). In my opinion, her only challenger for the title at this point in time is Stellar Wind, who has compiled an admirable record of her own while winning the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), Summertime Oaks (gr. III), Torrey Pines Stakes (gr. III), and Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III), in addition to running fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). If I had to vote today, I would vote for I’m a Chatterbox to win the Eclipse award, but Stellar Wind still has a couple of races left this year, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I), where she will likely have a showdown for the title with I’m a Chatterbox.
- On a side note, the main track at Parx seemed to be biased in favor of speed on Saturday, and while the bias wasn’t overwhelming, but it certainly didn’t help the chances of Tara’s Tango, who was shuffled to the back of the field early on and never rallied thereafter. Her performance looks poor on paper, but I would forgive this effort and expect to see her rebound next time out with a better trip.
- Limousine Liberal may have lost the Gallant Bob Stakes (gr. III) as the heavy favorite, but given the way the track was playing, victorious Fabulous Kid probably had an advantage getting out in front while setting blazing fractions of :21.32 and :44.31. Even still, Limousine Liberal looked poised to reel him in on the far turn, but after drifting out substantially at the top of the stretch, he couldn’t quite get up in time and fell a neck short of catching Fabulous Kid. Overall, both horses ran very well, but I would be tempted to side with Limousine Liberal in a rematch over a fairer track.
- Even after her decisive win in the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose Stakes at Saratoga last month, the four-year-old Speightstown filly Recepta was getting much respect, and in the Nobel Damsel Stakes (gr. III) on Saturday at Belmont Park, she was sent off as the fifth choice in the wagering at 6.30-1. But Recepta proved that she is a filly to reckon with by unleashing a sharp rally in the homestretch to take command and defeat the talented Lady Lara by a half-length. Perhaps the most impressive aspects of her victory were the fractions and final time–every quarter-mile was timed in less than 24 seconds, and Recepta ran the last quarter in about :23 flat to stop the clock in a rapid 1:33.32 seconds. With no standout filly or mare on turf this year, I’ll be very curious to see if Recepta’s connections choose to target the Breeders’ Cup FIlly & Mare Turf (gr. I), as that race could be ripe for an upset by a speed, talented filly like Recepta.
- After a pair of disappointing efforts at Del Mar, Bob Baffert’s up-and-coming two-year-old Toews On Ice relished the change in scenery at Los Alamitos and could not have been much more impressive while winning the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile Stakes. Granted, the field he beat wasn’t all that tough, but after dueling through fractions of :22.07 and :45.14, Toews On Ice drew off powerfully in the homestretch to win by 7 1/2 lengths in the sharp time of 1:15.31 for 6 1/2 furlongs. Notably, the runner-up was Annie’s Candy, who finished fifth in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) last time out and who pushed the talented Nyquist to within a head of defeat in the latter’s debut. Now, Toews On Ice might not have the strongest pedigree for distance races (by Archarcharch out of a D’wildcat mare), but he’s definitely a colt to watch during the next few months!