Notes & Quotes From Sunday’s Stakes Action Around the Country

(Mr. Misunderstood loves Churchill Downs & now Ellis Park / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Ellis Park:

(Recap by Jim Mulvihill, NTRA)
HENDERSON, Ky. (Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018) — Shaun Bridgmohan owned the inaugural Kentucky Downs Preview Day at Ellis Park from the start, winning six races on the program, including four for the meet’s leading trainer, Brad Cox. Two of the wins Bridgmohan and Cox teamed up for came in co-featured stakes with Arklow in the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Calumet Farm Turf Cup and Mr. Misunderstood in the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile. Bridgmohan swept two separate Pick Three sequences with wins in the first three races, as well as races six through eight, which were bookended by the stakes.
“In this game you need stock, and when you’ve got it, I still know how to use it,” Bridgmohan said. ““Brad is having an unbelievable meet and he’s got some really nice horses. It doesn’t matter where it is. A six win day at any track feels good, no matter where it is. And it certainly feels good to win it here. I’ve won six at the Fair Grounds and six at Aqueduct. This is the third time and they all are special.”
Four $100,000 turf stakes were run for the first time as part of Kentucky Downs Preview Day, funded by the flush purse account (and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund supplements) at Kentucky Downs. Each race was positioned as a springboard to its corresponding Kentucky Downs stakes event in early September.
“I’m glad they created this Preview Day,” Cox said. “It was a great day. Both horses ran really well. Obviously the turf course is firm, so you needed to be somewhat close, so the jock recognized that from the earlier races and throughout the meet. I’m proud of both horses. They ran the way they’ve been training. It’s been a good meet at Ellis so far; we like racing there. It’s a good spot in the summer time for Kentucky racing, for sure.”
(Trainer Brad Cox had a big Sunday at Ellis Park)
Bridgmohan made it a four-bagger aboard heavily favored Arklow in the Kentucky Downs Preview Calumet Farm Turf Cup at 1 1/4 miles, a prelude to the $750,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) in five weeks. A Grade 2 winner enjoying a bit of class relief after solid efforts against the likes of Yoshida and Synchrony earlier this year, Arklow tracked a soft early pace before being put to a long drive by Bridgmohan and getting up in the final stages to win by a head over pacesetter Zapperini. The top two were 1 1/4-lengths clear of 2016 Queen’s Plate hero Sir Dudley Digges in third.
“He’s a big ol’ horse with a giant stride to him,” Bridgmohan said. “Brad had talked to me about it and he just basically told me, ‘Don’t leave him too much to do.’ I warmed him up so he’d be on his toes when he left there. We could see there wasn’t a whole lot of pace in there. I adjusted a little bit what I needed to do. He laid close and still had enough at the end to get the job done.”
Arklow won last year’s American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs but failed to fire in two subsequent tries and got a long break before starting his 4-year-old year with an allowance win at Fair Grounds. He was second in the Mervin Muniz Memorial (G2) at Fair Grounds, fourth in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, then fourth as the favorite in the Stars N Stripes (G3) at Arlington Park before finding the right spot today.
“I really liked him being up in the race today; he’s never quite been that close,” Cox said by phone. “I was glad to see him a little more forwardly placed going longer. I think he’s a horse who could be very effective in the older horse division – a mile-and-a-quarter and beyond on grass – the rest of this year and hopefully into next year. I was very proud of him.”
Tessa Bisha, local assistant to Cox, saddled Arklow.
“I was worried because even though the pace was so slow, it’s still throwing a horse like him off their game when they are that forwardly placed,” she said. “But when I saw he had his head down running, I said, ‘Oh yes, this big guy’s got it.’ He did look like he surged ahead just enough at the wire, and he had his head down, too. I love this big horse. He’s so cool. He’s just really mellow and tries really hard. That’s all it takes to be cool in my eyes.”
Arklow returned $3.80, $2.60, and $2.60, while Zapperini paid $6.40 and $4.80, and Sir Dudley Digges was worth $4.40.
Zapperini, an allowance winner here last month, led through fractions of 25.56, 50.84, and 1:14.81 before yielding in the final sixteenth.
“He ran too well to lose,” said Travis Foley, assistant to his father, Greg Foley, who thought this spot might be easier than taking on Mr. Misunderstood at a flat mile. “We’ve always wanted to run the mile and a half type races. He just kind of tailed off there last year, so we ended up not taking those shots. But he’s bred to go forever, and we didn’t think that would stop him.”
“That’s what you call a really, really, really tough beat,” said Zapperini’s rider Gabriel Saez. “He beat me running, that’s all I can say.”
Arklow earned $60,105 to raise his career earnings to $420,932. Connections for both of the top two finishers indicated they would expect to move on to the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.
All Right rounded out the superfecta, followed by Rated R Superstar, Tizzarunner, Flatlined, and Harv Won’t Tap.
Mr. Misunderstood ran like the heaviest favorite on the card should, tracking the pace and swinging three-wide before edging past the leaders to land a professional win in the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile by 1 1/4 lengths. Shaun Bridgmohan rode the winner, his sixth on the card and second for trainer Brad Cox.
“Mr. Misunderstood just keeps on keeping on,” Cox said. “He’s ultra-consistent. I guess you could say we took a little bit of a drop today, but that’s the way it fell on the calendar. We thought it made a little more sense trying to get to Kentucky Downs through Ellis Park versus Saratoga.”
Siem Riep set the early fractions of 24.51, 48.11, and 1:11.21 before flattening out in the stretch but still holding second over Galton in third.
Mr. Misunderstood, a 4-year-old Archarcharch gelding, was last seen winning the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs in June. He earned $59,640 for today’s win to raise his career earnings to $634,354 and improve his overall record to 18-11-2-0.
“We knew coming in that we were going to be tough,” said Staton Flurry, the 28-year-old owner of Mr. Misunderstood who hails from Hot Springs, Ark. “I don’t want to sound cocky or overconfident. But when you’re 1-to-1 in the morning line, you know you’re supposed to win.
“He’s been running pretty tough since August of last year. We gave him about a 45-day break after the Illinois Derby. We brought him back a little sooner than we wanted for the (Louisiana Downs) Prelude last year. But I said, ‘I want to win the Prelude and get in the Super Derby.’ That’s what we did, and Brad went along with what I kind of wanted to do. And it’s been magical ever since. This was his 10th turf win (out of 13 races). He’s been just something you dream about.”
Cox indicated Mr. Misunderstood would be pointed to the $750,000 Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs, as would his other stakes runners from the Preview Day program, Arklow and Will Call.
“That’s totally what all three of them are doing, we’re pointing them all for the Kentucky Downs races,” he said.
The full order of finish was completed by Parlor, One Mean Man, Nice Not Nice, Bondurant, Cowboy Culture and Dimension.
Jazzy Times, claimed for $25,000 in May by owner-trainer Wes Hawley, stalked a blistering pace and surged to the front in the final strides to win the inaugural running of the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Sprint. The 5-year-old gelding won the 5 1/2-furlong turf event by a half-length in 1:00.91 – .39 off the course record – to notch his first career stakes score.
Extravagant Kid, a multiple stakes winner in Florida, held on for second in a photo with Maniacal. The second- and third-place finishers had battled early through fractions of 21.20 and 43.58 seconds.
Last month Jazzy Times won for the first time in more than a year when Hawley tried him on the grass in a $25,000 claiming race at Indiana Grand. Twenty-four-year-old Ty Kennedy was aboard for that race and got the return mount today for what turned out to be his first Ellis Park stakes victory.
“He’s such a good grass horse, as Wes had claimed him to be,” Kennedy said. “He broke really great. I just left him alone and let him settle himself. He did great. He was in the pocket, everything was good, and as soon as he saw daylight, he did the rest. I hung on and just waited for the wire.”
Jazzy Times paid $32.40, $14, and $6.80, while Extravagant Kid paid $6.60 and $4.20, and Manical returned $6.60.
Hawley, who has been known to back his horses at the windows, said there was no need to bet Jazzy Times today, even though he thought he had a chance.
“I didn’t have to bet because I own him,” Hawley said. “I just won $60,000!”
The $500,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3) could be next for Jazzy Times, though the $300,000 Turf Monster (G3) at Parx will also be under consideration, as will a $100,000 starter allowance he’s eligible for at Kentucky Downs billed as a prep for the 2018 Claiming Crown at Canterbury Park.
A son of Discreetly Mine, Jazzy Times turned heads on Kentucky Derby Day in 2016 when he broke his maiden on debut for Bob Baffert. Later that year he hit the board against older horses in the Gr. 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship and ran last in the Grade 1 Malibu behind a Mind Your Biscuits-Sharp Azteca exacta. He spent most of 2017 with trainer Brad Cox before being claimed by Steve Hobby, who lost the gelding to Hawley for $25,000 at Churchill Downs.
“I said the day I claimed him he might be another Chamberlain Bridge,” Hawley said, referring to the turf sprinter who was claimed for $35,000 before earning nearly $2 million and winning a Breeders’ Cup race. “I just had a gut feeling he was going to like the grass, and I go along on a lot of gut feelings.”
Jazzy Times earned $60,105 for today’s win, bringing his lifetime earnings to $301,629.
After the top three, the order of finish was completed by Fort Fortitude, Louisiana Brown, Angaston, even-money favorite Will Call, and Restless Remember. Downtown Cowboy was scratched.
I’m Betty G led every step in the $100,000 Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Turf Stakes, winning by an easy one length in the prep for next month’s $500,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3). The 4-year-old Into Mischief filly has been virtually untouchable in three straight victories for trainer Mike Maker.
“The filly broke good,” said jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who was riding at Ellis for the first time. “She’s always shown a lot of speed so I didn’t want to take anything away from her. When she made the lead, she got real comfortable and settled nicely. When I asked her for run coming into the stretch, she really kicked on.”
I’m Betty G set unpressured fractions of 23.84, 46.52, and 1:09.46 before drawing away in the stretch.
English Affair got up for second under Brian Hernandez Jr., a neck ahead of Bonnie Arch and Chris Landeros in third.
“Black type – that’s what it’s all about,” said Jack Bohannan, assistant to Rusty Arnold, trainer of runner-up English Affair. “That was great. The filly probably wants to go farther than that and not lay as close. But Brian did a great job, great trip. Mission accomplished, black type.”
Added Hernandez: “We had a perfect trip from the 1 hole like that. The way the turf course has been playing you want to be close and save all the ground. Fortunately we were able to save all the ground and able to get up for second.”
I’m Betty G paid $5.80, $4, and $2.80, while English Affair returned $8.20 and $5.20, and Ellis Park Turf Stakes winner Bonnie Arch was worth $4.40 to show.
The full order of finish was completed by Sailor’s Valentine, Res Ipsa, Noted and Quoted, Now Power, Tamit, Excessivespending, Lovely Bernadette, and Bridgmohan’s mount in the finale, Brooks House, who went off at 21-1 and checked in last.

Del Mar Race Course:

G2 Sorrento Stakes:

FLAVIEN PRAT (Bellafina, winner) – “I was (drawn) inside and didn’t want to get stuck behind horses. So I let her roll out of there. She’s got some speed and she was comfortable. I asked her for her kick on the turn and she gave it to me. She felt good and I think she’ll run farther, too.”

STEWART ELLIOTT (Del Mar May, second) – “I really couldn’t tell how much horse I had as we went along in there. On the turn I didn’t want to go five wide, so I went down inside horses and wasn’t sure if she could handle that. But she did and when I wheeled her out she came running. Good effort for her.”

GEOVANNI FRANCO (Boujie Girl, third) – “My filly ran good. The winner was very impressive. I think our outside post cost us. It didn’t help, that’s for sure.”

SIMON CALLAGHAN (Bellafina, winner) – “She showed us in the afternoon what she has been showing us in the morning. I actually didn’t expect her to be on the lead; I just told Flavien (Prat) to break and take it from there. I think she’s a filly with a big future and she’s just going to keep getting better. I don’t want to say yes, definitely (to the Del Mar Debutante). It’s a possibility, but when you’ve got a filly that you think this much of, it’s better to be a little patient and work your way back from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies .”

La Jolla Handicap:

In the La Jolla Handicap earlier on the program, Irish-bred River Boyne, the odds-on favorite under Prat, came through as expected with a decisive victory. Rallying in the stretch, River Boyne scored by a comfortable length and one-quarter over the fast-closing Arawak, with early pacemaker Calexman third and Inscom fourth in the field of six three-year-olds.

Restrainedvengence, winner of the Oceanside Stakes, was fifth in front of last-place Move Over.

River Boyne, a son of Dandy Man, is owned by Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal and trained by Jeff Mullins. The victory was the colt’s fifth in ten starts and first prize of $90,000 increased his earnings to $361,718.

The winner, sent off at 1-2, paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10. Arawak, a 10-1 outsider in the mutuels, returned $5 and $3.40, while Calexman paid $2.80 to show.

There were no perfect tickets in Sunday’s Pick Six. Wednesday’s card will have a Pick Six carryover of $91,748.

Saratoga Race Course:

G3 Troy Stakes:

Won by Sandy’z Slew, who completed 5 ½ furlongs in 1:05.07 over the yielding Mellon turf course. Pulled up by Ortiz after the wire, Sandy’z Slew was vanned off for further evaluation.

Jose Ortiz, rider of the winner:

“He didn’t break down, [But] I could feel it when I started jogging, so I pulled him up,” said Ortiz. “He took a bad step near the quarter pole; it was probably there. But he kept going in the stretch and showed a lot of heart. I didn’t notice [at first], I thought it was just a bad step. He was good enough to keep running. But when I started jogging him, it [looked like] he hurt a little bit. I think he’ll be OK.”

Alydar Stakes:

Barclay Tagg, trainer of the winner Realm: 

“He’s talented, but they kind of ran away from him a little bit, too, there,” said Tagg, who also won Race 9 with Im the Captain Now. “He (Junior Alvarado) rode him nice and coolly and cut him to the outside when he had to. That’s the only thing you can do if he’s not in front; you’ve got to get him to the outside, but you don’t want [to do it] too early and lose all that ground, either. He just rode him perfectly.”

The popular, one-eyed Patch, also from the Pletcher barn, closed late for third, finishing a length behind the top two. Brown stablemate Timeline and Outplay completed the order of finish.


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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