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HRN Original Blog:
Kentucky Oaks Runner

The Sheepshead Bay and New Directions

The Kentucky Oaks is three weeks in the past, the focus on three year old fillies has shifted forward and much like the headlining events for the sophomore fillies the focus of this blog has also changed direction. It starts with the title, Kentucky Oaks Runner will return next year when the Kentucky Oaks trail once again resumes but for now The Distaff Runner takes over and everything filly and mare holds precedence. Sprints and distance races, juveniles and up, fillies and mares, ladies and distaff, The Distaff Runner will cover it all. The new header features two of the most outstanding female runners of the last decade that represent the very best of their divisions.

Indian Blessing was, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest female sprinters of the last 20 years, while Zenyatta was one of the most talented closers and classic distance runners in decades. My hope is that over the next seven to eight months, before January rolls around once again, readers and writer alike will be able to takeoff on an exciting and eye-opening journey that sees us witness countless epic moments in the sport and the emergence of the next great distaffers. The Distaff Runner now rises from the ashes like the phoenix reborn, Kentucky Oaks Runner no more; it’s time for a new direction.

Most of the action this holiday weekend through Monday will be swirling around the Metropolitan Handicap and the male milers but both Arlington Park and Belmont Park will host two signature Graded stakes events on Saturday that will showcase solid filly and mare competition. Arlington Park features such players as Upperline, Pachattack, Milwaukee Appeal, Satans Quick Chick and It’s Tea Time in the 2011 running of the Arlington Matron Stakes (Gr.3) but  it the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes that we’ll be taking a look at. The Sheepshead Bay (gr.2) features a short field of six female runners headed by the Graham Motion trained La Luna de Miel and Grade 1 winner Hibaayeb.

A European import, La Luna de Miel  won two consecutive races at Gulfstream Park in February and March, including the Orchid Stakes (gr.3) at 1 ½ miles on the turf before finishing fourth behind Keetana in the Bewitch Stakes (gr.3) on April 28th after failing to sustain her drive in the stretch. She gets a bit of a class relief in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes even with the presence of Hibaayeb and should be able to move up for her second graded stakes win of the year if she proves good enough.

Also from Europe, Hibaayeb won the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at 1 ¼ miles in her first US start in early October before finishing a dull 8th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr.1). She started the year finishing third behind Breeders’ Cup winner Tapitsfly in an Allowance Optional Claiming race at Gulfstream Park. The 1 3/8 miles shouldn’t be a problem for her but she will need to show a more sustained run than she has in her last two starts if she wants to win.

Yet another European runner who comes into the Sheepshead in good form is Cheetah who enters off two consecutive wins, including a 3 ¾ length tally in her United Stakes debut at Keeneland in a 1 5/8 mile Allowance race last month. She doesn’t have a graded stakes win to her name and will be making her graded stakes debut in the Sheepshead but she appears to have a very good chance to win and has great recent form.

Giants Play has finished third to La Luna de Miel in her last two starts and also hails from Europe. Tarrip was last seen finishing fourth to La Luna de Meil and is on a seven race losing streak. Belle Watling will be making her fourth US start as a native of Chile. She finished dead last in the Apple Blossom Stakes (gr.1) behind Havre de Grace in her most recent start. Choice Play won a claiming race at Gulfstream Park in late March but might not like the marathon-type distance of the Sheepshead.

La Luna de Miel appears to be in fine form right now and was on a roll earlier in the year, but if you’re looking for a little bit of value try taking a look at Cheetah, she appears to have the most upside.

It’s mostly the second tier fillies and mares taking center stage this weekend but in less than three weeks time the big guns will return with a vengeance, most notably Turbulent Descent in the Acorn Stakes on Belmont Stakes day, June 11th. Another race to keep an eye on this weekend is the 1 mile Little Silver Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sunday that features two solid three year old fillies in Ruthenia and Salary Drive.
 
Photo Courtesy of Benoitphoto.com



 

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Older Comments about The Sheepshead Bay and New Directions...

Oh nice, have fun at the races! Definietly have to love the fillies, especially this year!
Love the new look, Brian! The Sheepshead Bay should be fun, but I will be at the Arlington Matron in person ... gotta love the fillies!

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 Meet Brian Appleton 

Thoroughbred Horse Racing is my passion.  It started when at the age of 9 I found a book called Come On Seabiscuit by Ralf Moody on my Mother’s shelf.  Reading that book was one of the most exciting things I ever did as a kid. I read that book so many times that I had entire chapters committed to memory and the dust jacket worn and ripped beyond recognition from so much use. From that point on I was hopelessly addicted, reading every book on horse racing I could get my hands on, especially racehorse biographies. In 2009 I began my own blog called Rail Runner on wordpress and have continued to blog there to this day.

Curlin is probably my favorite racehorse of all time. Being able to attend six of his races will always be one of the highlights of my life. Whenever I need to re-find some inspiration in my life all I need to do is watch one of his incredible victories and relive the memories. Rachel Alexandra ranks right up there too. As any horse racing fan will tell you it’s almost impossible to choose just one favorite and I am no exception. Phar Lap and Citation are another two of my all time favorites and the list could go on and on.

I was homeschooled my entire life by my parents and graduated High School in 2006 at the age of 17.  Currently I am completing my Marketing degree with the hopes of entering the Thoroughbred Horse Racing field as a writer/journalist , or in the marketing/advertising/promotions side of the industry.

It is my dream to someday become a thoroughbred racehorse owner and win major races across the United States. Who wouldn't want that, right?  For about 1 ½ years I was part owner in a racehorse, Lord Greystoke raced, and owned by Hibiscus Stables. I was able to attend one of his races at Belmont Park on Kentucky Derby day, May 2, 2009 and it was an incredible experience. While Lord Greystoke finished 7th in the race, being able to stand in an owner’s box not 30 feet away from Penny Chenery’s owner’s box was one of the most amazing feelings in the world.

Later in the year Lord Greystoke was finally able to break through with a 4 ½ length win which made me feel like one of the world’s most accomplished thoroughbred owners and further fueled my appetite. I think it would be rally neat to win the Appleton Stakes (Gr.3) at Gulfstream Park, even though I'm generally a bigger fan of dirt racing I can't help but think it would be neat for me to win a race with the same name as my last name.

That’s me in a nutshell, just a very passionate, driven young guy that wants to be a part of this amazing sport and share the adventure with other fans.