Five graded races, each with Breeders’ Cup implications, took place at Belmont Park over the weekend and I will shed some light on what I witnessed.
The top-three really separated themselves from their foes in this Grade 1 sprint and I would be hard pressed to give any others in this field a chance at Del Mar next month. TAKAFUL notched his first Grade 1 tally and is surely a good one for conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin, posting a 106 BRIS Speed number after tracking and wearing down runner-up EL DEAL. A son of Bernardini, sophomore colt has put in a trio of fine efforts in succession and Takaful is eligible to keep improving while still relatively lightly raced.
El Deal, who was exiting a convincing win in the A.G. Vanderbilt (G1), is among the better one-turn horses on the East Coast and the hard-knocking STALLWALKIN’ DUDE bounced back in a big way closing to be third in a field where no other runner was making up ground in the lane.
I still think Bob Baffert’s Drefong is simply at a different level than any other sprinter and expect him to win the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) for a second straight season. The Vosburgh trio could be nice exotics types.
This turf race for juveniles is a stepping stone to the Juvenile Turf (G1) and the top three all ran well enough to get a look if they head to Del Mar. SEABHAC received a much improved trip and recorded his first career win for Todd Pletcher, scoring by a comfortable half-length margin. Son of Scat Daddy was put into the race early on and clearly proved under Luis Saez.
VOTING CONTROL put in a steady run to be second for Chad Brown behind a soft pace and will benefit from a more honest tempo to run into going forward. Son of Kitten’s Joy has room to get better and is bred to be the type who will move up with experience and distance.
I was a bit disappointed in MARAUD, who mustered third following a sharp debut win. After looking so professional in his first outing, Pletcher pupil looked poised to pounce after a fine trip but never switched leads in the lane. The son of Blame, like many juveniles, can move forward significantly with the experience and I haven’t given up on him after just a pair of starts.
ELATE is my pick to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Bill Mott pupil was blocked for much of this Grade 1 affair but exploded like a special filly once clear, opening up in the matter of a few jumps in midstretch. Daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is peaking for sure with three huge performances in succession, including BRIS Speed figures of 108 in the last two. She is a pleasure to watch run.
BEACH PATROL has now pulled off the Arlington Million-Joe Hirsch Turf Classic double and could be on his way to an Eclipse Award with a big showing at Del Mar. Chad Brown trainee was sensational in this 1 ½-mile turf test, decimating a fine field in a facile five-length romp and son of Lemon Drop Kid is so good right now, and so handy with good early foot, that he can take his show to any oval and fire. Beach Patrol is sure to face some heavy-hitting imports in the BC Turf (G1), but he has defeated some accomplished Euro invaders in two straight and the BRIS 111 Speed figure he registered Saturday is stout. The four-year-old colt finished fast with a :22 4/5 final quarter-mile.
Sunday’s feature for juvenile fillies was a good one in my opinion, with a top trio all running well. SIGNIFICANT FORM was visually impressive in her debut at Saratoga and looked the part once again in her stakes bow, sweeping to the lead and staying on well to earn a one-length decision. Expensive daughter of Creative Cause has a fine turn of foot for a lightly raced youngster and she will take some beating in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Brown pupil is running to her $575,000 price tag and I really like the gray lass.
BEST PERFORMANCE and ORBOLUTION, who finished second and third, respectively, each closed with good energy and can’t be dismissed going forward.