It was a pretty good weekend for racing fans. Gio Ponti (photo, right), the 2009 Champion Turf Horse, put a halt to his losing streak by winning the grade 1 Man o’War Stakes at Belmont Park and 3-year-old starlet Blind Luck took the Delaware Oaks (gr. 2) over a sloppy track.
Looking ahead, we have Santa Anita Derby (gr. 1) winner Sidney’s Candy leading the contenders into Saturday’s Swaps Stakes (gr. 2) at Hollywood Park and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Blind Luck is headed to Saratoga for the Alabama (gr. 1). The August 21 Alabama may be one of the more anticipated races during the Spa meeing with other major league 3-year-old fillies such as Mother Goose (gr. 1) winner Devil May Care and Prioress Stakes (gr. 1) winner Franny Freud also headed to Saratoga.
Trainer Bob Baffert saw his Preakness winner Luckin at Lucky work Saturday at Santa Anita covering six furlongs in 1:12.60. As reported in Daily Racing Form, Lookin at Lucky suffered a minor setback following the Preakness with a fever, but Baffert said they are back on track for the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. 1) August 1 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Kentucky Derby (gr. 1) presented by Yum! Brands winner Super Saver is also training for the Haskell in Todd Pletcher’s barn as well as sentimental favorite Uptowncharlybrown and Preakness runner-up First Dude.
First Dude will also bring sentimental support to the Haskell as owner Jack Dizney as pledged 1% of his graded stakes earnings to the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, the industry’s leading veterinary research organization.
However, the sophomore class of 2009 took a hit this weekend when trainer Bill Mott said Belmont winner Drosselmeyer will take a break from training for at least 60 days due to a foot concern. It is conceivable Drosselmeyer could return in time for the Breeders’ Cup, but it will likely be his first start after the long vacation presenting a large hurdle in front of an already daunting task. If the Breeders’ Cup Classic features Zenyatta, Quality Road, Rachel Alexandra and a late blooming 3-year-old star or two, it becomes a worse option and a doubtful path for Drosselmeyer and his connections.
One of those potential late blooming 3-year-old made an appearance this weekend at Monmouth Park. Trappe Shot (photo left) looked very impressive winning the $175,000 Long Branch Stakes, the local preparation for the Haskell. In his first start around two turns, Trappe Shot stopped the clock in 1:43.48 for the 1 1/16 miles. It was also good enough to earn him his second consecutive 105 Beyer Speed Figure having also achieved that number in a June 5 allowance victory at Belmont Park.
Super Saver (Kentucky Derby, 104) and Lookin at Lucky (Preakness, 102) have only achieved triple-digit Beyer numbers once to help put Trappe Shot’s two recent races into perspective. In any event, Trappe Shot may be one of the most exciting new challengers to Triple Crown winners in the Haskell since Lost Code took on Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba and Belmont winner Bet Twice in 1987.
But perhaps some of the best news we heard this weekend was regarding the recovery of Global Hunter. Just a few strides after winning the American Handicap (gr. 2T) at Hollywood Park July 4, Global Hunter dislocated his right front fetlock, a life-threatening injury for a thoroughbred.
However, he was rushed to Alamo Pintado Medical Center in Los Olivos, Calif where he underwent four hours of surgery the following day according to Bloodhorse.com. Trainer A.C. Avila told Bloodhorse that a plate and 16 screws were inserted to stabilize and repair the joint and Global Hunter is currently “doing fantastic.”
Best news of all.