Smith’s Mid-Race Move Fails As It Tiz Well Runs Down Abel Tasman In Cotillion

by | 09.23.2017 | 5:15pm
Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward celebrates It Tiz Well's Cotillion victory with jockey Drayden Van Dyke

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith tried a similar tactic to that he employed aboard Abel Tasman in the CCA Oaks, moving the Kentucky Oaks winner toward the lead about a half-mile into Saturday's Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes, but it wouldn't work a second time. It was Drayden Van Dyke aboard Tommy Town Thoroughbreds' It Tiz Well who at 5-1 was able to sweep by 4-5 favorite Abel Tasman in the stretch, scoring by two lengths and giving trainer Jerry Hollendorfer his second Cotillion in a row. A 3-year-old daughter of Arch, It Tiz Well covered 1 1/16 miles over Parx' fast main track in 1:43.67.

Very satisfying,” said Dan Ward, assistant trainer to Jerry Hollendorfer. “She has been running good races and improving all the time. I thought we had a good chance. I thought we might get that trip. She did a super job.”

Van Dyke kept It Tiz Well just off the pacesetters down the backstretch, allowing the filly to maintain an easy, loping stride as he tracked the movements of the other riders. Lockdown had jumped out of the gates on top, and the favored Abel Tasman was very slow into stride, winding up near the rear of the field around the first turn.

After Lockdown covered the first quarter in 23 1/5 seconds, Smith seemed to feel the pace slow down a bit. He cued Abel Tasman to move up the rail, making up approximately eight lengths in less than a sixteenth of a mile. She was vying for the lead with Lockdown through fractions of 47 1/5 seconds and 1:11 1/5, leaving Van Dyke and It Tiz Well sitting pretty just behind the leading pair as Lockdown refused to let up on Abel Tasman.

:She ran today like she ran at Delaware Park [July 8, Delaware Oaks],” Van Dyke said. “Set off the pace and relaxed, and when I called upon her she responded. She was perfect.  When I saw Mike [Smith aboard favorite Abel Tasman] coming up on the inside, and I sat off her and waited and they kind of went away from me for a few seconds and she was there for me the whole time.”

The battle was on down the lane as both jockeys asked their fillies to lay it on the line. A very game Abel Tasman, despite already running hard for more than a half-mile, hunkered down and fought off the challenge from Lockdown. But Van Dyke tipped wide aboard It Tiz Well at the head of the lane, and was just out of the line of sight of Abel Tasman when she rocketed to the lead.

To her credit, Abel Tasman tried to rise to the challenge and re-engage toward It Tiz Well, but the wire flashed ahead with It Tiz Well two lengths in front. Abel Tasman bested Lockdown for the place, and Mopotism got up for fourth.

“I didn't want to take it that soon,” Smith said. “I was hoping to get finish on the lead. She has been breaking slow of late than she wants to gather herself up and wants to catch up at one time, too much to do. I could have stayed way wide, but I would have been too wide and she still would have wanted to make that move and I would have been too wide, the inside is wide open and she was pulling me so hard and she just took me there and I thought maybe she could pull it off from here but it was too much to do. She'll be fine for the Breeders' Cup.  It wasn't one of her best but she ran well.”

“She got real rank with him, she took off with him it, and it was unfortunate,” added Abel Tasman's trainer Bob Baffert. “It was a ridiculous run. We might have to take the blinkers off. I guess we just have to turn the page.”

Bred in Kentucky by Allen and Susan Branch, It Tiz Well commanded $230,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale. She has since gone on to win a pair of Grade 3 races and was previously placed in two Grade 1 events, but the Cotillion is her first top-level score. Overall, It Tiz Well's record stands at 5-2-2 from 10 starts, with earnings of over $1.1 million.

  • Racing Fan

    Oh, Mike Smith. Everyone in the mid-Atlantic region knows the rail is dead at parx especially from the 3/8 pole home. If you watch 50 races at Parx you’ll find that 35-40 of the winners come from the 3-4-5 paths. Chrome suffered the same dead rail fate a few years ago.

    • Minneola

      And, yet, that youngster, Drayden Van Dyke, a SoCal jockey seemed to know something that the HOF jockey did not know. Of course, there are some really good young jockeys in SoCal that are doing rather outstandingly. However, from my memory, what hindered, to a large degree, in Chrome winning this race was more than just the rail position. It was widely opined, at that time, that he and his jockey got boxed in for a very, very long time.

      • togahombre

        yes, because when he broke sharp his rider wisely strangled him back on a speed favoring (on that day) track, he was the favorite in a million $ race, the other riders aren’t going to hold the door for him

        • kstott524

          Bayern broke like a rocket, took the lead, and then slowed the race down. Bad post for Chrome being in the 1 hole with Bayern to his outside. Maybe CC would have run a better race if he could have drifted out and stalked but he was never going to make the early lead.

          • Trust Not

            Was that the race he should’ve disqualified when he wiped out half the field at the start?

          • kstott524

            I think you know the answer to your question.

          • Tango F

            It is easier to get an uncontested lead when you do that ;-)

      • Tango F

        Sad, that people cannot just say that the winner was better and want to blame everything from the track to the moon’s position in relevance to the pyramids

      • kstott524

        I’ll go with your take on the 2014 Pa Derby. If Chrome was on the rail then so was Bayern who set the track record in that race.

  • Ida Lee

    Bad day for me…first of all, Abel came running like a bat out of hell on the rail …she did everything she was asked…sorry but I felt she should not have been left to have to run all that distance on the rail especially with the reputation that rail position at Parx has…really if it wasn’t for precious Page McKenney, who is racing better than ever, this would be a horrible day….I won’t mention the other big race yet…I’m still in shock….

    • Tango F

      Baffert thinks his stamina “building” has no bottom – I think he found one today

    • Stuart H

      The rail was deep and tiring…I was puzzled by Castellano doing the exact opposite with Timeline but keeping back and trapped down along the rail. Not the place to be at Parx on Saturday. Not making an excuse for AT, but no horse is a machine…even Bafferts.

      • Ida Lee

        Exactly ….

  • Bobby blue

    Mike Smith has been watching to many Secretariat replays

    • mike K

      how many winners have you ridden ?

      • cheeks22

        But Bobby is right

      • Bobby blue

        I haven’t, but I’ve watched thousands of races and Smith is the most overated jockey of all time.

        • Stuart H

          The legend was born when the pace collapsed in the 2005 Ky Derby, and an unknown colt named Giacomo grinded up for the win. Had Closing Argument held sway, and he ran a hell of a race, maybe a different result that race and we would be talking about how fast Bodemeister and Palace Malace went in the Ky Derby early on. But to Mike’s credit, it was TPI’s idea to slap blinkers on PM first time out for the biggest race in PM’s life in a big field.

          But he still would have had all those mounts and Zenyatta and other nice horses. He has had some really nice mounts.

  • ctgreyhound

    It Tiz Well shows that she has what it takes to win a grade 1. Score another winning training effort by Hollendorfer, but it was the filly’s day & her tactical efforts proved to make the difference. Van Dyke gave her a superior ride.

  • Paul1963

    My buddy and I gave Mike a lot of grief when he came out for the PA Derby post parade. “Mike what the hell was that?” “Be careful of that mid race move in this race”. He just looked us and smiled because he knew we were right.

    • Judoon

      Or he thought you were annoying hecklers who think they can read minds.

      • Stuart H

        Or he smiled because he was on West Coast and he was breaking near mid track…and knew the jockey on the 1 was trigger shy, so there would be no serious threat up front to go up and get, and no Gunnevera in this race?

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