Fantastic Finish in France
In one of the best stretch runs we’ve seen in recent years, the fantastic filly, Treve, threw everything but the kitchen sink at the old warrior, Cirrus des Aigles, yesterday at historic Longchamp. Many expected the darling of the turf to whip up on the old man, but in a classic display of age before beauty, it was the 8-year-old gelding who would simply not let his younger rival by. The defeat of Treve should not be taken too hard by her legion of fans, though, as the 4-year-old filly was making her first race since winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in spectacular fashion more than six months ago, while Cirrus des Aigles had the benefit of an excellent race under his belt in Dubai. Not to flip the hyperbole switch on too fast, but yesterday’s meeting in the Prix Ganay was more than just a horse race, it was a sublime moment in time capturing the very best of Thoroughbred horse racing. It was also a race that Treve needed, so ZATT's Star of the Week better look out next time!
Bumping, Noses, and Videotape
For anyone who thought Saturday Night’s Derby Trial would be little more than a tiptoe through the tulips for the heavily hyped Bayern … boy did you turn out to be wrong. Bayern did end up running a courageous race, one that carried him to a whisker long victory over both Embellishing Bob and Myositis Dan, but the result simply would not stand with the Churchill Downs law. More than three-quarters of the way through a race-long nip and tuck battle, Bayern and his company up front, Embellishing Bob started getting a little down and derby trial, if you know what I mean. It looked like both colts were guilty of the bumping until nearing the wire, Rosie Napravnik switched to a left-hand whip causing Bayern to push Embellishing Bob a few lanes wider than his previous path. It was enough to change the top two, while Myositis Dan’s late charge literally came one jump short. No Derby horses here, but I would be surprised if we don’t see at least one of the trio head to Baltimore for the Middle Jewel.
Itsmyluckyday and Vyjack join the fray
For those of you who start dreaming about the next Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile moments after the most recent one is complete, (you know who you are), there was plenty of reason to smile up and down the Eastern Seaboard this weekend. First, in South Florida, Itsmyluckyday returned to his winning ways in smart style with a dominating victory in the Best of the Rest Stakes at Gulfstream Park. It was only the second start since suffering an injury in the Haskell, and it looked very much like the colt who racked up stakes wins over the same track last winter, before running an inspired runner-up to Oxbow in the Preakness. It should be bigger and better from here for the son of Lawyer Ron. 24 hours later, and up the coast in the Empire State, Vyjack made good on the massive respect showed to him by the bettors in a fast seven panel optional claimer at Aqueduct. Despite winning by less than a length in his return race, the gelding also looked like very much like he did in sweeping the Jerome and Gotham in 2013. It only gets tougher for Vyjack, as the $1.25 million Met Mile is on his immediate dance card, but I would think long and hard before discounting him against anyone at his favorite flat mile trip.
Inimitable is Indomitable
This time last year, the gray New York-bred mare, Inimitable Romanee was a useful sort, but you never would have mentioned her in the same sentence with the best female turfers in the land. Flash forward several months, and the now 6-year-old daughter of Maria’s Mon is one of the hottest things going. Four races back, and coming out of an eighth place finish against statebreds in the Ticonderoga, her trainer, Graham Motion removed her from a string of middle-distance races to enter her in the 12-furlong Long Island. That move up in distance has made all the difference. A 28-1 winner of that one, she followed it up with another grade 3 score in the 11-furlong The Very One at Gulfstream Park in February. A defeat in the Orchid was next, but Inimitable Romanee bounced back in fine fashion on the penultimate card of Keeneland’s Spring Meet. I wasn’t sure if she could do it coming from the 12-hole, but sure enough she was relentless down the stretch and just got up under Alan Garcia to win her the Bewitch, her third graded stakes victory in the last four starts.
Storm Fighter has a Future
Speaking of horses taking it to new and exciting places, watch out for a lightly raced Californian named Storm Fighter. The breakout star of the Golden State Series Saturday at Santa Anita, Storm Fighter took it to his competition early and often on the way to as easy as he pleased 3 ¼-length score over the good Rousing Sermon. The 4-year-old-son of Stormin Fever was making only his seventh career start in the Tiznow Stakes, but looked like an old pro in dominating his far more experienced foes. I do not yet know the story behind his lack of racing earlier in his career, but I suspect this is a colt really coming into his own as an older horse. Besides the sharp score, he was far and away the best looking one in the post-parade. Whatever path his connections choose to follow for the rest of the year, I believe the future is bright for this Golden Eagle homebred.
Machmer Hall is on a Roll
Hello, Machmer Hall! Not exactly one of the bigger names in the Kentucky Bluegrass, the Paris farm of Craig and Carrie Brogden is on an amazing roll. Check out their last few months: February 1 - Vinceremos gamely fought off all comers to win the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. February 22 - Intense Holiday got his nose down on the wire to defeat a solid field in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds. April 1 - Kid Cruz rolled home in Pimlico’s Federico Tesio for his second straight easy stakes. April 26 - Vyjack looked good in winning his first race since the Haskell; all of them bred by Machmer Hall. You get the idea, the little breeding operation that could, can do little wrong right now. We already know they will be well represented in races like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Met Mile, and with a little luck, one of those huge races will result in the the farm’s biggest win to date.