Eclipse Award Finalists
2017 Year in Review
Naming a Thoroughbred
Kentucky Derby Points
Belmont Park, host of this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, completed its series of final prep races on Saturday with the two juvenile divisons covered. Steady rain fell all day rendering the main track sloppy and chilly weather made for an all-around miserable day.
Nine Juvenile Fillies hopefuls made their final preps in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes, a 1-mile trip around 1 turn of the main track. Todd Pletcher trainee Adieu was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in this $500,000 event, with Catch My Fancy the 4-1 second choice and Keeneland Cat the 9-2 third choice.
Adieu in the winner's circle after the Frizette with trainer Todd Pletcher on the left.
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "The strategy was to have her break well, let her run away from there. Fortunately, it worked out well. I was more optimistic on a track like this than I would have been on a dry, cuppy surface. She has to have established herself as divisional leader."
Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I didn't have a problem with her being inside, but I didn't want to get her trapped in there. She's got good speed to get good position. The track has been playing pretty fast, and I didn't want to take her back. Once I got her outside, I kept giving her a little more. She is still waiting on horses a little. I was on her, so I was confident."
Javier Castellano, aboard second place finisher Along the Sea said, "She ran very good. This was a good race for her. I still think she is going to improve with more distance. She was second behind a nice horse."
Joe Bravo, aboard third-place finisher Keeneland Kat said, "She had a little problem getting into the gate, but that was just two-year-old stuff and no big deal. It's a shame she lost so much ground breaking from the 9-hole, but she never gave up the bit. She tried really hard and she'll keep getting better. She's still learning"
Only six Juvenile hopefuls went to post in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, also run at 1 mile for a $500,000 purse. First Samurai was bet down to 3-4 favoritism over 5-2 second choice Henny Hughes.
First Samurai in the winner's circle after the Champagne with trainer Frank Brothers on the right.
Winning trainer Frank Brothers said, "I thought he was much more professional today. You're not going to get many strolls in the park from here on out, so you've got to learn to take a little adversity. I thought he would give a kick and hopefully, he would be good enough. I thought Henny Hughes ran a huge race. He'll probably stay here, but we'll see how he is over the next few days and decide. He's an undefeated colt. He's done a lot of nice things. Hopefully, he stays well."
Winning jockey Jerry Bailey said, "He struggled a bit with the track, but it didn't surprise me. He is a big, heavy horse. I didn't think he would bounce through it the first time. He came home a little slow, but they went pretty fast in the earlier part. He struggled a little bit more coming home than I thought he would, but I thought that was product of them going fast early. He was very good in the gate and he broke well. And he keeps winning."
Gary Stevens aboard second place finisher Henny Hughes said, "He ran well. I don't have much to say right now."
Nick Zito, trainer of third-place finisher Superfly said, "We're very happy. He was coming back on at the end. We'll go on to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Eibar (Coa) gave him a great ride. He knows the horse now. This was really his first shot with horses like that. He's got a good chance to improve."
Dawn of War after winning the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity.
Jockey John Jacinto sent 36-1 longshot Dawn of War to the front early, and she battled with the favorite through very slow fractions of 23.80, 48.51, and 1:14.72. Turning for home, Laity dropped out of contention, while Dawn of War, aided by the slow pace, had plenty left for the drive. Jacinto asked her for run entering the lane and she quickly surged to a 3 length lead by mid-stretch, easily holding off the late charge of 21-1 shot Catcominatcha for a 3 1/2 length win in a time of 1:48.77. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to Stream Cat in third, while Laity disappointed in fifth.
Results Chart from DRF
Winning trainer Dale Romans said, "This horse always tries hard. We kind of let Laity get away from us at River Downs. From the outside we had to go. It's always nice to have a speed horse at Keeneland, regardless of how the earlier races have been running. He didn't switch leads but we are working on that. I am sure (owner) Mr. Ramsey will want to go to the Breeders' Cup."
Host after winning the Shadwell Turf Mile.
13-1 shot Durban Thunder led the field past the stands first time by and around the clubhouse turn through a quarter in 24.23 and a half in 48.34 over the firm course, joined up front by 29-1 longshot Gulch Approval. Down the backstretch Durban Thunder gave way, allowing Gulch Approval to take the lead with 27-1 shot Vanderlin giving chance. Turning for home, Gulch Approval held a narrow lead, but 10-1 shot Host was circling the field 6 wide after racing back in eighth early. Host battled with Vanderlin through deep stretch, prevailing by a neck in a time of 1:37.67. It was 2 3/4 lengths back to Gulch Approval in third, while favorite Three Valleys finished fifth.
Results Chart from DRF
Winning jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "My horse broke good and went easily to the half. Even though he usually shows speed, he relaxed for me. When I asked him to run, he just exploded."
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