Archive for June 2021

Vigilantes Way Finds Path To Winner’s Circle In Eatontown At Monmouth Park

Even after 11 career starts, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has been saying that the best is yet to come for Vigilantes Way.

Sunday’s Grade 3 Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. may be the start of that for the 4-year-old filly.

Perfectly positioned to chase soft early fractions by jockey Paco Lopez despite leaving from post position 12, Vigilantes Way showed an impressive closing kick to win the $150,000 G3 Eatontown Stakes by 2¼ lengths before a season-high crowd of 12,562 on Father’s Day.

It marked the first graded stakes victory for the Phipps Stable homebred, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro out of Salute by Unbridled.

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“I thought Paco rode a good race,” said McGaughey. “He got her away from there from the outside and had her in good position. I knew she would finish. She had trained very well before she went down there. It was just a matter of whether she would take the shipping on a hot day like today. She obviously did. I’m very proud of her.”

Able to break alertly with Vigilantes Way, Lopez sat behind pacesetter Valletta through tepid fractions of :24.54, :48.70, 1:12.12, and 1:35.87 for the opening mile of the mile and a sixteenth race on a turf course that has been playing fast. Lopez asked his filly coming out of the final turn, and she responded in a big way, easily surging past Valletta, who held on for second. Crystal Cliffs and Counterparty Risk finished in a dead heat for third, another half-length back, in the full field of 12 fillies and mares 3 years old and up.

The winning time for the race was 1:41.90.

“Sometimes this horse has speed, sometimes not,” said Lopez. “The post position (12) is something I usually don’t like but today it worked to our advantage. I was able to get out there and get in a good position behind (Valletta). It set up nicely for us.

“Shug told me to do whatever I felt I needed to do. She is usually in the top three early and I knew she would finish. She has a strong kick. It looked like there was a lot of speed in the race but they went kind of slow so I was happy with the position I was in throughout the race. I didn’t have to make up a lot of ground.”

McGaughey was especially encouraged by Vigilantes Way’s prospects for the Eatontown Stakes off her last race, when she closed into slow fractions on the Preakness Day undercard at Pimlico, falling a half-length short to multiple-graded stakes winner Mean Mary.

“I thought her last race in Pimlico was a really good race because she kind of got jumbled up at the start and got out of position,” said McGaughey. “She only got beat a half-length by Mean Mary, a multiple-graded stakes winner. Now maybe we can go on and get her stretched out, maybe to a mile and an eighth. She’s handy. She might be able to get it. When that will be, I don’t know. But today I am very pleased with the way she ran and very proud of her.

“Getting a graded stakes win is important, especially for a filly with a pedigree like hers. It’s as good a pedigree as you are going to find. So now she’s a graded stakes winner. Hopefully, it might lead to something even better.”

Vigilantes Way returned $9.20 to win for her fifth lifetime victory in 12 starts. She has failed to hit the board only twice in her career.


Joe Bravo made the most of his travels last week. With mounts at Delaware Park, Belmont and Pimlico, he won two stakes races to earn Jockey of the Week for June 7 through June 13.

The award, which is voted on by a panel of racing experts, is for jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 active riders in the United States as well as retired and permanently disabled jockeys.

On Wednesday, Bravo journeyed to Delaware Park for the Obeah Stakes reuniting with the 4-year-old Dream Marie trained by Matthew Williams. Taken back early in the field of seven fillies and mares three years-old and up, Bravo eased Dream Marie outside and advanced five wide at the half mile marker kicking clear in the final sixteenth to win by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:44.40 over a sloppy track, returning $19.40.

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“She really likes this course,” said Bravo. “The last time she was on this course she was a very game second a heart-beat from winning. Today, as I was expecting, when she turned for home, she really kicked off nicely.”

After riding at Belmont Park Thursday and Saturday, Bravo travelled to Pimlico Race Course on Sunday for the call on Pixelate in the Prince George’s County for three-year-olds and up going 1-1/8 miles for trainer Michael Stidham. In a field of 11, Bravo rated Pixelate in fifth along the rail outside Alwaysmining. Entering the stretch, Pixelate drove past a tiring Alwaysmining and Logical Myth to win by a length in 1:53.56.

“He was really strong on the first turn,” Bravo said. When we got down the backside he started breathing underneath me and I knew he was comfortable. Turning for home I had to get him outside. Stidham did all the hard work and got him really ready. I want to say thanks to Godolphin.”

When asked if he was told anything before riding Pixelate for the first time, Bravo replied, “Don’t get beat, jock.”

Bravo will be heading west to ride at Santa Anita closing weekend and intends to ride at Del Mar when their meet starts July 16.

Weekly statistics for Bravo were 6-3-1-0 and total purse earnings of $179,880.

For Jockey of the Week, Bravo out polled Stewart Elliott with two stakes wins at Lone Star, Kyle Frey who tied with Charle Oliveros for number of wins for the week with nine, and Jose Ortiz who one a stakes race and was leading jockey by total purse earnings.

Dream Marie rallies from far back in the slop to win Obeah under Bravo

Dream Marie gave trainer Matthew Williams his first career stakes victory when the 4-year-old daughter of Graydar rallied from last to win Wednesday’s $100,000 Obeah at 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy and sealed Delaware Park main track.

Owned by the Williams family’s Miracle’s International Training, Dream Marie was dismissed as the 8-1 fifth choice in the field of seven fillies and mares. She paid $19.40 to win.

There was a fast pace on display in the Obeah as rank outsider Shyza set fractions of 23.07 and 47.20 while pressured by race favorite Bajan Girl and Miss Marissa. Shyza backed out first and Miss Marissa traveled better than Bajan Girl as the field turned for home.

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Meanwhile jockey Joe Bravo had Dream Marie outside, and on the move to loom a stalking presence on the second turn. They drove past Miss Marissa and Bajan Girl in midstretch and completed the distance in 1:44.40 seconds while 1 3/4 lengths better than Miss Marissa.

Market Rumor, handled patiently near the rear of the field, rallied widest for third, two lengths behind the runner-up. Bajan Girl, Graceful Princess, Artful Splatter, and Shyza rounded out the order of finish. Crystal Ball, Promised Storm, Jilted Bride, Trolley Ride, Sweet Sami D, Queen Nekia, and Lucky Stride all scratched.

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The Obeah was Dream Marie’s second trip to Delaware Park. Based at Gulfstream Park, she finished second in last summer’s Grade 3 Delaware Oaks behind Project Whiskey. She also placed in two other graded races in 2020, including the Grade 2 Davona Dale.

Graceful Princess, a daughter of Tapit and Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, saved ground behind the leaders and didn’t appear to handle the wet track.

The first four finishers in the Obeah automatically earned a free nomination to the meet’s signature race, the Grade 2, $400,000 Delaware Handicap on July 10.

Gershwin Scores Over Sloppy Main Track In Penn Mile – Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Getting a perfect set-up behind dueling front-runners for the first six furlongs, Godolphin homebred Gershwin – a half-brother to Grade 1 Dubai World Cup winner Mystic Guide – scored a two-length victory under Joe Bravo in Friday evening’s $300,000 Penn Mile Stakes, a one-mile race originally scheduled on turf at Penn National race course in Grantville, Pa., but was transferred to a sloppy main track because of heavy rain.

The Penn Mile is designated as a Grade 2 race on turf by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s American Graded Stakes Committee, but was automatically downgraded to Grade 3 because of the surface switch. The AGS Committee conducted a review and opted not to reinstate the original Grade 2 status so the race will be record as Grade 3.

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The King Cheek finished second after dueling with Sibelius through fractions of :24.66, :49.13, and 1:13.75. It was 6 1/4 lengths farther back to Chess’s Dream in third, with 9-5 favorite Annex fourth and Sibelius retreating to the back of the field of five 3-year-olds at the wire. Original and Outadore were scratched.

Gershwin, a Distorted Humor colt out of G1 winner and producer Music Note, by A.P. Indy, is trained by Michael Stidham, who also trains Mystic Guide (by Ghostzapper) for Godolphin. He ran the mile on a sloppy track in 1:39.24 and paid $6.80 to win.

The quality in Gershwin’s female family goes well beyond Music Note, whose second dam is the Harbor View Farm filly It’s In the Air, co-champion 2-year-old filly in 1978 and winner of four G1 races the following year.

The victory was the second in five lifetime starts – all in 2021 – for Gershwin, who left the maiden ranks sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs ver a muddy track in his second start on Feb. 6 at Fair Grounds. He finished a well-beaten third next out on a good track at Oaklawn on March 25, then lost by a neck on a sloppy track at Churchill going a one-turn mile. The Penn Mile was the first stakes attempt.for Gershwin, who trained up to the race at Fair Hill training center in Maryland.

Gershwin broke well from the rail post but Bravo allowed The King Cheek and Sibelius to gain the advantage in the early going. He kept Gershwin well off the rail throughout and swung even wider into the stretch to make his winning move.

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