Archive for July 2014

Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga

Trainer Danny Gargan and his owner, Richard Averill, knew the only way to beat the 6-5 La Verdad in Monday’s $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap at a soggy Saratoga was to take the race right to the speedy favorite. And that strategy paid big dividends after their Florida invader R Free Roll sprinted to a 1 1/4-length, wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 2 dash for older fillies and mares.

R Free Roll and jockey Paco Lopez win the Honorable Miss Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths MondayR Free Roll was sent to Gargan two weeks prior to the Honorable Miss by her regular trainer, Kirk Ziadie, off a pair of stakes victories at Calder and Gulfstream Park. Rarely outrun for the lead in any of her 16 previous starts, R Free Roll broke a step slowly but was aggressively handled by jockey Paco Lopez right from the start, easily outsprinting La Verdad to control an honest pace over the sloppy track.

R Free Roll repulsed a bid from Merry Meadow entering the stretch, then remained clear under steady urging, with La Verdad gradually weakening to finish a disappointing fifth.

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My Wandy’s Girl, who defeated La Verdad in winning the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap earlier this year, rallied mildly between horses to be second-best, finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front of the tiring Merry Meadow.

R Free Roll, a 4-year-old daughter of Rockport Harbor, completed six furlongs in 1:10.12 and
paid $15 while giving Gargan his first stakes victory at Saratoga.

“My owner [Averill] is a pretty smart handicapper, and we knew the only way we could beat her [La Verdad] was to take control of the race and make her chase,” said Gargan. “That was the game plan. It’s always fun when a horse comes in and is doing as good as she was.

Kirk pretty much told us everything to do. It’s nice being the quarterback, especially when you have a coach as smart as he is.” Averill said R Free Roll will go back to Ziadie at Calder and likely will be pointed for the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland on Oct. 3, a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“I’d love to bring her back to Saratoga to run in a Grade 1, but the next one here is seven furlongs, and that’s really not her cup of tea,” said Averill, referring to the Ballerina on Aug. 23.

Guys Reward wins the G3 Oceanport

Guys Reward reeled in the pacesetting Fredericksburg to win the Grade 3, $170,000 Oceanport Stakes by a length Sunday at Monmouth Park.

A drop in classs did the trick, as Guys Reward wins the Grade 3 Oceanport on SundayA class drop helped get Guys Reward home in the 1 1/16-mile turf race. A deep closer trained by Dale Romans, Guys Reward picked up minor shares in his prior three outings: the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and a pair a Grade 2’s, the Monmouth Stakes here and the Firecracker at Churchill. He faced some top turf runners in that three-race span, including two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

Read Original Article on Racing Daily Form

This time, Guys Reward was the one to fear.

It was the second straight Oceanport win for trainer Dale Romans following the victory by Silver Max last year. Jockey Paco Lopez got his third Oceanport win.

Guys Reward paid $11.20 to win. The time was 1:40.48 for the 1 1/16 miles on the firm course.

Under Control was third followed by Michael With Us, Slim Shadey, Mshawish, Change of Command, Lochte, Shkspeare Shaliyah, and Joe Tess.

Ju Ju Eyeballs Wins the Klassy Briefcase Stakes

Ju Ju Eyeballs beat stablemate Indian Splendor by 1 3/4 lengths on Sunday
in the $64,800 Klassy Briefcase Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The outcome gave trainer Jason Servis a one-two finish in the 5 ½-furlong grass sprint for fillies and mares.

Read Original Article at Daily Racing Form

Ju Ju Eyeballs, making her first start since October, wins the Klassy Briefcase under Paco LopezThe race set up perfectly for Ju Ju Eyeballs, a multiple stakes winner here who had not run since October.

The 4-year-old Ju Ju Eyeballs was obviously fresh and ready. It didn’t hurt to have her uncoupled teammate do the heavy lifting.

Indian Splendor bounded out of the gate and quickly hooked Quality Lass. While those two contested the pace, Ju Ju Eyeballs saved all the
ground in third.

Ju Ju Eyeballs and jockey Paco Lopez popped off the fence at the top of the lane and reeled in Indian Splendor.

The only drama in deep stretch was whether Indian Splendor could hold second over the onrushing Aquinnah. She did, by a neck.

It has been an interesting journey for Ju Ju Eyeballs, a $15,000 claim in December 2012 by Servis and the Mr Amore Stable.

She had a stellar summer here last season, winning the Crank It Up Stakes on turf and the Just Smashing Stakes on dirt. She concluded the campaign with a third-place finish in the Maryland Millions Distaff Handicap at Laurel.

Then came the layoff and, in a surprising move, her entry for a claiming tag last month. She was withdrawn from that spot, a decision justified by her latest stakes victory. “We’re thrilled to death,” Servis said. “We put a lot of work into her, my whole barn. It was gratifying to see her win.”

Ju Ju Eyeballs paid $6.40 to win as the slight favorite over fourth-place finisher Jewel of a Cat. The time was 1:01.20.

Peggy Joyce was fifth, followed by Allwewantforxmas, Sounds of the City, Quality Lass, Perfect Package, Jane of All Trades, Nastar Medallist, and What a Party.

Itsmyluckyday wins the G3 Salvatore Mile

Itsmyluckyday cocked his head to the right in deep stretch, as if to acknowledge the grandstand crowd on Sunday at Monmouth Park “Yes, I’m back,” he seemed to be saying. “And by the way, I’ve got this Salvator Mile wrapped up.”

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Itsmyluckyday extended his winning streak to three with a 1 1/2-length victory over Bradester in the Grade 3, $160,500 Salvator.

Itsmyluckyday, under Paco Lopez, collects his third straight victory in the Grade 3 Salvator MileThe win was another building block in the comeback that trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. hopes will carry
Itsmyluckyday to the top level of the handicap division.

Itsmyluckyday was a leading 3-year-old last season, the runner-up in both the Florida Derby and
the Preakness. The campaign ended abruptly when Itsmyluckyday suffered a pelvic injury here in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes. He endured a prolonged period of enforced stall rest as the damage healed.

The Salvator was his fourth race back. He had the misfortune of encountering Palace Malice in
his return, the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in March. Itsmyluckyday was fourth that day, not a bad effort against the acknowledged leader of the division.

“When you look at that race, and dissect that race, it was not a bad effort on his part,” Plesa
said. “We’ve built from that race. We’re taking it one step at a time. There is no doubt in my mind he’s a quality horse, never has been. I think he’s proven that each and every time he gets on the racetrack.”

Since Gulfstream Park Handicap, Itsmyluckyday won the Best of the Rest at Gulfstream, the Majestic Light at Monmouth, and now the Salvator.

The latest was unquestionably the toughest challenge the three. “It was another test and he passed it with an A-plus,” Plesa said. The Salvator trip wasn’t an easy. Into the first turn, Itsmyluckyday had plenty of company.

“He was laying fourth behind a wall of horses,” Plesa said. “He didn’t panic. He did what he was
supposed to do.” Approaching the final bend, Paco Lopez angled Itsmyluckyday into the three-path for a wide trip all the way to the top of the lane. Itsmyluckyday then wrested the lead from Bradester and Valid in upper stretch.

He was on his way, except for that unexpected lurch to the right. “He might have been looking for Paco to pull him up, like he did in the last two races,” Plesa said. “It’s a bad thing to do. Am I blaming Paco? No. Are you going to see Paco do that again, like he did in the two previous races? Absolutely not.”

Plesa said the next target will be the Grade 2, $200,000 Monmouth Cup on July 27, part of the
Haskell Invitational undercard. The time was 1:34.88 on the fast track under warm, sunny skies. Itsmyluckyday paid $4.40 to win.

Valid was third followed by Don Dulce, Code West, Raging Daoust (last year’s Salvator winner),
Dawly, Sailor’s Revenge, and Elnaawi.

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