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Cape Blanco Retired

As if Super Saturday wasn’t worse enough.

The dominating superstar of the American turf and a surefire top competitor for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Cape Blanco [IRE] has been retired to stud due to an injury sustained during the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (I), which he won in a wrestling match with Dean’s Kitten on Saturday.

With the recent euthanization of Banned, I don’t think the American turf racing world can bear much more bad news than this. With Cape Blanco [IRE] out of the running, the turf classic division just got that much more tangled and in favor of a strictly-European runner.

This year, Cape Blanco was the accomplished winner of the Arlington Million and the Man o’ War Stakes all before adding his third and toughest Grade I win in the 1 1/2 mile Joe Hirsch. May he get well soon and produce more talented runners like himself in the future.

RIP Banned (2007-2011), who was euthanized today.

RIP Banned (2007-2011), who was euthanized today.

Banned Fighting for His Life, Tizway Out of JCGC

Is that stabbing pain in my heart mean it’s been broken?

Tizway, the smashing winner of the Whitney Stakes (I) and the Met Mile (I) this year, is out of the October 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup (I) due to a sudden high temperature reading according to his trainer H. James Bond. 

He missed a work scheduled for Wednesday due to it and while it has improved since, his connections have decided it would be safer to sideline the probable favorite from next Saturday’s race. Instead of running, Tizway will most likely train straight through to his start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (I).

I’m terribly disappointed Tizway won’t be up to challenge Stay Thirsty and others in the JCGC, a race I’ve been dying to see with him as a major attraction. But, if the horse isn’t 100%, it’s best to pass on a race until he’s back to being himself. I know from personal experience running a race right after an illness is trying enough, never mind running against the best out there and wanting to win.

With Tizway out of the running, Stay Thirsty and Woodward runner-up Flat Out are predicted to be the two hot favorites.

Banned set for life-saving surgery tomorrow

Winner of three graded stakes so far this year, the turf-loving Banned was pulled up during a routine work at Santa Anita. The colt was found to have broken two sesamoids, and is set to undergo surgery September 24 close to the track.

While he is being a willing patient thus far, the vets have given the Kitten’s Joy colt only 20% odds of survival, dependent on how the horse recovers, avoids complications, and if there is enough blood flow to the ankle.

Better Talk Now “Critical,” But Healing

On a slightly better note, one horse looks to be recovering strong. At the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now is listed in “critical condition” after a surgery to correct a severe gastrointestinal problem.

The team at NBC remains cautiously optimistic about the horse’s recovery, citing he seemed livelier and interested in what was going on around him. As of now, he is still on fluids, but may soon be moved to eating food again should all go well.

Get well soon everyone!

We did it! Air Support (Smart Strike x Gaze, by Danzig) and jockey Alex Solis are greeted following their enthralling victory in the Virginia Derby, where they grabbed the lead in the final furlong while holding off a late charge by the favorite Banned. I can recognize those silks anywhere, too— Air Support is owned by Stuart Janney III, whose father owned and bred the great Ruffian. Look out Saratoga!

We did it! Air Support (Smart Strike x Gaze, by Danzig) and jockey Alex Solis are greeted following their enthralling victory in the Virginia Derby, where they grabbed the lead in the final furlong while holding off a late charge by the favorite Banned. I can recognize those silks anywhere, too— Air Support is owned by Stuart Janney III, whose father owned and bred the great Ruffian. Look out Saratoga!

Handicapping: Virginia Derby (II)

Two nice turf events as well as the newest Havre de Grace/Blind Luck matchup commence this weekend, with one of the keenest handicapping opportunities being the Virginia Derby (II) at Colonial Downs. The race has been making champions out of its winners in recent years, so it’s all the more important to keep an eye out for who comes under the wire first. Here’s the field:

$600,000 Virginia Derby (II) - For 3-Year-Olds Only. 1 1/4 miles on turf at Colonial Downs, VA. Post Time: 8:05 EST.

(Post Position, Horse, Jockey, Weight Impost, Trainer. Favorites in Bold)

1. Callingahardten - Kent Desormeaux, 117 lbs, Garry W. Simms
2. Air Support - Alex Solis, 123 lbs,  Shug McGaughey
3. Newsdad - Alan Garcia, 117 lbs, Bill Mott
4. Street Game - Edgar Prado, 119 lbs, Phil Serpe
5. Casino Host - Christopher DeCarlo, 117 lbs, Chad Brown
6. Thirtyfirststreet - Chris Landeros   117 lbs, Doug O’Neill
7. Banned - Jose Lezcano, 123 lbs,  Tom Proctor
8. Crimson China - Julien Leparoux, 119 lbs, Graham Motion
9. The Waco Kid - Wilmer Galviz, 117 lbs, Kathleen O’Connell
10. King Congie - Johnny Velazquez, 117 lbs, Tom Albertrani [pictured]
11. Benergy - Corey Nakatani, 117 lbs,  Dale Romans
12. Watch Me Go -  Luis Garcia, 117 lbs, Kathleen O’Connell

Banned is the hands-down favorite here and deservedly so after a string of success in six turf starts this year. Also to watch is King Congie [pictured], who has won all three turf starts this year. Air Support has fought gamely in six consecutive turf starts. Crimson China is underpracticed but talented, having won 2-for-2 on the surface. New to the surface is Mott trainee Newsdad who is a nice colt and Derby entry Watch Me Go

My picks: Street Game - Banned - King Congie

I’m not as familiar with turf handicapping as I am with others, but here’s a go: Not as well known as Banned, but certainly very talented with one of the most patient jockeys in the irons is Street Game. He’s been on the board in all 5 of his starts, with victories stretching as far as nearly 8 lengths in stakes company. I think he’ll pull up a good upset on Banned in this race. King Congie’s been an underrated horse the whole year, but I see him finishing up front here.

Should Have Bet Today

Two races I should have bet on today… argh!

Today’s Vanity Handicap (I) for fillies and mares was blindsided by the reigning Eclipse winner Blind Luck, who rallied hard from last to first in the stretch to pass a game Switch just in time for the wire. Miss Match, the winner of the Santa Margarita (I), came in third. I love Blind Luck to death, and she’s the deserving winner here and the sweetheart of her owner, Jerry Hollendorfer. She gave him just what he voiced he wanted for his 65th birthday— victory in the Vanity! But one question lingers: what will happen when Blind Luck is matched with the seemingly impervious Havre de Grace?

Churchill Downs was the battleground for virtually every East Coast handicap heavyweight in the Stephen Foster Handicap (I) over the dirt track. Pool Play made a surprise upset, circling the field 9 paths out from the rail coming down the homestretch to defeat Mission Impazible by a neck. Up and coming competitor Apart was almost 2 lengths behind the two for third. I got a strong gut feeling about Pool Play, and again, it was one of those instances where I was weighing out the very evenly matched field and eyeballing those mystery horses who were seemingly outclassed longshots. Pool Play, sent off at 36-1, had the experience factor and patience to his benefit and I already like the influence of Deputy Minister descendants. Shucks!

Also victorious today was the runaway filly star Awesome Maria in the Ogden Phipps Handicap by 3 on the Belmont dirt and Derby runner Pants on Fire in the Pegasus Stakes (III) by 2 on the Monmouth dirt. Derby runner Midnight Interlude made a successful switch to turf without blinkers, winning the Tsunmai Slew Stakes by a neck at Hollywood. Banned banished all comers in the Jefferson Cup (III) on Churchill turf by 2.

Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.

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