Twinspires.com Weekend Stakes: Where to Watch
The news that I’ll Have Another will not run in the Belmont has rocked the racing world, and, more than that, the connections of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. Poised on the brink of destiny, I’ll Have Another showed swelling in the left front tendon, and rather than take a chance on any further injury, trainer Doug O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam opted on the side of caution and scratched. The elusive Triple Crown will remain unclaimed for yet another year. Still, the Belmont will go on as scheduled, along with other top-tier races.
Friday’s Belmont card includes two graded stakes, the Grade 3 Jaipur and G2 Brooklyn Handicap, both for three-year-olds and upward. The Jaipur, on turf, has a field of eight with one also-eligible. The two favorites on the morning line, Bergerac (5-2) and Right One (2-1) both come out of the Apr. 14 G2 Commonwealth at Keeneland, where they finished second and third, respectively. Previous to the Commonwealth, which was run on the Polytrack, Bergerac was runner-up in an optional claimer over the Gulfstream Park grass; Right One was third in the Pay the Butler at the Aqueduct meet in November.
Redeemed and Birdrun match up again in the Brooklyn, the final race of the Friday Belmont card. Redeemed, five-for-seven last year, is exiting a win in the Milesius, where he beat Birdrun, the runner-up, by nearly 10 lengths over a sloppy track. Birdrun is winless in five starts since he captured last season’s running of the Brooklyn.
Belmont’s parade of graded stakes on Saturday begins with the 7th race, the G2 True North Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for older horses. Giant Ryan had a string of six wins in 2011, including the prestigious Vosburgh, before heading into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, where he ended up eighth, over 13 lengths behind Amazombie. He’s been out once this season, finishing fifth in Meydan’s Golden Shaheen. His opponents include Smiling Tiger, fifth in his lone 2012 race, the G2 Churchill Downs, and Charles Town Classic winner Caixa Eletronica.
Next on tap, Winter Memories will attempt to make it two in a row this year with a win in the G1 Just a Game, a one-turn mile test on grass. In 2011, the daughter of Memories of Silver posted four wins from six starts, and was the heroine of the G3 Beaugay in her lone start this season. She faces Hungry Island and Tapitsfly, the top two from G2 Distaff Turf Mile, part of the Kentucky Derby undercard, as well as Sylvestris, Wallis, Dancinginherdreams, and Up In Time.
Suffice to say that the 1 ¼-mile distance was a little bit beyond the range of Trinniberg, who is much better placed here in the G2 Woody Stephens, which is seven furlongs. It’s the same distance of the G3 Swale and G3 Bay Shore, both of which were annexed earlier this year by the son of Teuflesberg. The Woody Stephens has the top three from the You and I returning—Currency Swap, Brian, and Hardened Wildcat. Also in the lineup is Hierro, coming off a win in the G3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, where he defeated Paynter, who will be running later today in the Belmont.
Hudson Steele is the slight morning line favorite over Brilliant Speed in the G1 Manhattan Handicap, the 1 ¼-mile turf event that precedes the Belmont. In a career that’s been interrupted various times, Hudson Steele is on the rise in the turf ranks after two wins at the Pimlico meet this year. Brilliant Speed amassed over $1 million in earnings during his sophomore campaign, and as a 4-year-old, has had two outings, most recently getting the show dough in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill. Also expected to start are Boisterous, Desert Blanc, and Top Surprize, the first three finishers from the Fort Marcy run here over a yielding course on May 5.
In the wake of I’ll Have Another’s scratch from the Belmont, favoritism will fall to Union Rags or Dullahan, both of whom passed on the Preakness after their runs in the Derby. Each had some trouble in the Run for the Roses and made up ground in the late stages. Dullahan especially seems suited to a longer distance. Paynter didn’t race as a juvenile; in just his second race, he was pitted against I’ll Have Another and Creative Cause in the Santa Anita Derby, and finished a respectable fourth. The Bob Baffert trainee last ran on the Preakness undercard, scoring easily in a conditioned allowance. He looks to be the only legitimate speed. Also, look for Street Life to show some serious stretch running.
Betfair Hollywood Park has co-features on Saturday, the G2 Honeymoon and the G1 Charles Whittingham Memorial handicaps. The Honeymoon is carded as the 3rd race, and has attracted a compact field of five led by Lady of Shamrock. Since arriving in John Sadler’s barn last year, the Scat Daddy daughter has won her three turf starts, most recently the G3 Providencia. Sadler also has back-to-back winner Trois Aureole entered here.
Multiple Grade 1-winner Acclamation makes his seasonal debut Saturday, gunning for his third straight Whittingham win. The 6-year-old won five graded stakes in a row last year, a streak that began with the G2 Jim Murray and culminated with the G2 Clement Hirsch. After some heat was felt in his feet, Acclamation’s connections decided to pass on the Breeders’ Cup and let the champ rest up for a 2012 campaign. Among his five foes is Slim Shadey, runner-up in his two most recent outings.
On Sunday, the only graded stakes taking place is the G2 Monmouth Stakes. Entries include G1 Maker’s 46 Mile winner Data Link, Gulfstream Turf Handicap hero Get Stormy, and Roman Tiger, two-for-two in his most recent efforts.