Plenty of fire from final races in June

Plenty of fire from final races in June

July 03, 2018 3:00 AM


While the start of this year’s seventh month on Sunday, July 1, included the cancellation of Belmont’s racing card due to “heat,” the last day of June on Saturday was quite hot throughout North America with 23 stakes, including six worth at least $250K.

Given the quality of competition in so many of those stakes and their potential implications for richer events in the next couple of months, including the ultra-rich Breeders’ Cup races in early November, here’s my analysis of some of Saturday’s best stakes.

This will include the stakes’ basic facts, including who won and how each horse pulled off their respective victory. Each summary also will spell out who trained and rode the winners, along with their respective clockings and Beyer Speed Figures.

• At Belmont, the $250K Mother Goose at 1-1/16 miles for 3-year-old fillies was won by Midnight Bisou after this Steve Asmussen trained, Mike Smith ridden daughter of Midnight Lute rallied to score by six lengths at 1-2 odds. While there is no doubt her task was made somewhat easier when four scratches reduced the field to a mere three rivals, Midnight Bisou did it as if she will be a serious threat in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga next month.

• At Churchill Downs, there were a pair of traditional early season 6 furlong stakes for 2-year-olds: The $100K Debutante for juvenile fillies was impressively won by Restless Rider, a Ken McPeak trained miss who hit the wire in 1:10.62 under Brian Hernandez after being checked half way through the contest. The Beyer Figure was 76, which proved to be much faster than Sir Truebadour’s slow 57 Beyer after he crossed the Bashford Manor wire under Ricardo Santana in 1:12.77 for Asmussen. Without major improvement, this one will be a longshot in any important summer stakes.

• At Gulfstream Park, in the Grade-2, $250K Princess Rooney at 7 furlongs, Kathleen O’Connell’s 15-1 shot Stormy Embrace defeated 14-1 shot Rich Mommy by six lengths after setting most of the pace under Wilmer Garcia. This was Stormy Embrace’s fourth win in seven career starts at GP and she was clocked in 1:21.81, which earned a solid 97 Beyer, best of her career. To be truthful, I’m not sure Stormy Embrace can replicate such a solid Figure going forward. We will find out soon enough.

• Also at GP, $250K, the G-3 Smile Sprint at 6 furlongs was won in similar fashion, as XY Jet led throughout under Emisael Jaramillo to win by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:09.61 for a 98 Beyer Figure. Sweetontheladies inherited second after the disqualification of Reason to Soar for interference.

Jorge Navarro trained the winner, who was most recently second in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen. She now has earned more than $1.5 million in 22 lifetime starts and scored 100-plus Beyer Figures in more than half of her last 11. Frankly, this 6-year-old mare never should be discounted in any sprint against any horse, male or female.

• At Monmouth Park, the $300K, Grade-1, United Nations at 1-3/8 miles on the turf, was strongly won – wire to wire – by 23-1 shot, Funtastic over 2-1 favorite Money Multiplier,who had to overcome some traffic issues early in the contest. Both horses were among three in the field trained by Chad Brown. Antonio Gallardo rode the winner in 2:12.36 to earn a terrific 103 Beyer, as both horses promoted themselves as potential contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

• At Woodbine in Canada, on a stakes-rich card that included five races worth at least $100K, the $1 million, 1-1/4 mile Queen’s Plate for 3-year-old Canadian breds, was won by the 3-year-old filly Wonder Gadot, who rallied from eighth to gain a strong lead entering the stretch under John Velazquez.

The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was beating a field loaded with male rivals and she dominated the event, scoring by 4-3/4 lengths at 2-1 odds with blinkers on for the first time in 12 career starts. She was trained by Mark Casse and was clocked in 2:02.25 for a useful 95 Beyer Speed Figure. Fact is, her low odds were quite understandable, given she had been highly competitive in eight different Graded stakes in New York, Arkansas, Kentucky and California.

All things considered, the final day of June provided one of the best days of racing so far in 2018. There certainly were several excellent performances in the above seven races and throughout North America.

Weather permitting, more races of similar high quality are likely to be run during the next nine weeks of summer. After all, it will not be long before Saratoga and Del Mar take over center stage.