Justify stole the show on Saturday in becoming our 13th Triple Crown winner. Scat Daddy colt continues to rewrite history and is arguably among the all-time best sophomores to ever run after just six lifetime races.
But there were other standout performances on Saturday. And the dominating win by Abel Tasman grabbed my attention in a big way.
Also conditioned by Baffert, the Quality Road filly broke a bit slow in the Ogden Phipps (G1) but circled the field to lead her foes through an opening two furlongs in :23 1/5.
From there, the long-striding champion left a talented and accomplished field in her wake, crossing the wire 7 ½ lengths in front beneath Mike Smith, who never went to the whip.
Abel Tasman bagged four Grade 1 wins last year and finished second in three others. 2017 Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine concluded her fine season with a closing second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and garnered a well-deserved Eclipse Award for leading 3-year-old filly.
She wasn’t at her best when fourth at Churchill in her yearly bow but rebounded superbly in the Phipps. After a moderate opening quarter-mile, Abel Tasman clicked off splits of :22 4/5, 23 4/5 and :30 1/5 in the 1 1/6-mile test. Those are racehorse fractions.
I think Abel Tasman is going to have a huge 2018. She has proven capable of taking her tack with her and running anywhere with top results.
Versatile sort can shine going one-turn, as she did on Saturday, or winning at nine furlongs at Saratoga, evidenced by her 2017 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) tally.
Champion Unique Bella gets a lot of love in the Distaff division, and she should. Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is brilliant and her Beholder Mile (G1) romp was routinely excellent. But as good as ‘Bella has been in California, she has left something to be desired when leaving the Golden State to this point.
I look forward to seeing Abel Tasman campaign for the rest of 2018 and have her as the front-runner for another Eclipse Award.