Week in Review and Notable Performers: 8/29- 9/5

Despite three graded races for juveniles this past week, including the first Grade 1 of the season, Kentucky Derby-related news was more focused on the new $50 fee charged to those applying for Derby tickets. The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Jennie Rees was the first to break the story that eventually made its way into most major newspapers and sports web sites throughout the world. 

It’s too obvious to list the reasons this new procedure is nothing short of corporate greed, however it is not unprecedented for a major sporting event.  The NCAA charges a non-refundable “application fee” for Final Four tickets and the New York Jets infamously charged a recurring “maintenance fee” to those on the season ticket waiting list.  The latter situation was reviewed by the New York Attorney General and subsequently altered, and there are reports that the Kentucky Attorney General has been notified regarding the Derby fee.

Regardless what we think, it’s hard to imagine Churchill Downs altering the policy-- that is unless they’re unable to sell the 2,000 tickets.

On to the racing: Graded stakes recaps, notable performers, works, and futures below.  Plus, go here for all the info you need on Wednesday’s Del Mar Futurity

Graded Stakes Review

Hopeful S. (G1)

Winner: Currency Swap NP
Trainer: Teresa Pompay
Jockey: Rajiv Maragh
Chart: Equibase
Video: YouTube
Beyer/BRIS Speed: 76/85

The first Grade 1 contest for Juveniles turned out to be both triumphant and perplexing.  Trainer and Saratoga Springs native Teresa Pompay captured her first G1 in her own backyard when Currency Swap splashed home in the Three Chimneys Hopeful (G1).  It’s nice to see a trainer without the last name of Pletcher, Asmussen, or Baffert have an exciting juvenile and Pompay’s elation following the race made it that much easier to toast. 

The track was extremely sloppy and apparently 70-1 shot Trinniberg preferred it that way.  Bolting out of the gate he nearly took the field gate-to-wire.  Setting quick fractions did him in though, as Currency Swap was able to collar Trinniberg on the outside under urging from Rajiv Maragh.  The final winning margin was only 3/4 lengths and it was another 3 3/4 back to third place finisher Big Blue Nation.

Pompay and owner Seth Klarman of Klaravich Stables indicated the Champagne (G1) at Belmont would be the next logical stop before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

While it’s hard to find fault or move the focus off of a Grade 1 winner, certain occurrences need to be mentioned.  Currency Swap received a low 76 Beyer speed figure from the effort, which is 22 points lower than his debut.  This adds to the continuing trend of monster debut Beyer figures being followed by extreme bounces.   

Also, the morning-line favorite and track record holder J C’s Pride was pulled up before the stretch and vanned off.  Trainer Robert Barbara indicated he appears to be ok and has a scrape on a front leg.   

With Anticipation S. (G2)
Winner: State Of Play
Trainer: Graham H. Motion
Jockey: Ramon Dominguez
Chart: Equibase
Video: YouTube
Beyer/BRIS Speed: NA/82
Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF

Kentucky Derby winning connections Graham Motion and Team Valor once again have a serious two-year-old for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.  State of Play, a son of War Front, led at every call in the With Anticipation (G2) at Saratoga, the first graded contest on grass for Juveniles.

Setting easy fractions under Ramon Dominguez, State of Play eventually was eyeball to eyeball with a rallying Optimizer, but found a second wind with encouragement from Dominguez.  

Motion said the Pilgrim Stakes (G3) at Belmont or Bourbon Stakes (G3) at Keeneland would be the next stop before heading to Churchill for the Breeders’ Cup.  State of Play could make Team Valor and Motion dual winners of the Juvenile Turf if he follows in 2010 winner Pluck’s footsteps.  Who knows even further down the road, his pedigree does show signs of liking dirt…

Sapling S. (G3)
Winner: She Digs Me
Trainer: Steven Asmussen
Jockey: Elvis Trujillo
Chart: Equibase
Video: YouTube
Beyer/BRIS Speed: 87/96
Articles: Bloodhorse / DRF / Brisnet / TTimes

Sitting just off the pace in the beginning stages, 4-1 shot She Digs Me made an explosive move on the far turn to separate himself from the field in the Sapling Stakes (G3) at Monmouth.  Jockey Elvis Trujillo was given no firm instructions from trainer Steve Asmussen, but watching She Digs Me tear through the stretch to a 6 1/4-length victory, apparently he didn’t need them. 
Asmussen had another charge, Voodoo Daddy, who was also the even money favorite.  He set the pace but faded to eighth.  It was a dead heat for second with Jagati and Black Rhino, while Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird’s half-brother Dullahan finished third.  No immediate next-race plans were announced for She Digs Me, but you have to assume Asmussen will try to stretch out the son of Henny Hughes.

Notable Performers

Me And My Gals
9/1/11 Hoosier Park
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Terry J. Thompson
Chart: Equibase
Beyer/BRIS Speed: 95/NA

The first NP from Hoosier Park, and it’s a doozie.  Me and My Gals turned a Thursday maiden special weight contest into a laughter.  Coupled with another Romans entry Cars and Trucks, Me and My Gals was sent off as the 7-5 favorite based on his quick breezes from Churchill.

Breaking from the gate well, Me and My Gals set fractions of 22.80, 45.40, 57.60, and finished in 1:08.80 which was a little over a second off the track record for 6 furlongs.  The final margin of victory was 8 1/4 lengths and could have been more.  His winning Beyer speed figure of 95 is the highest of the week.

A son of Sky Mesa, Me and My Gals was a $180,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling sale.  The sire was a precocious juvenile himself, winning the Hopeful at Saratoga and 8.5-furlong Breeders Futurity at Keeneland.  He was injured before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and would not comeback until July the following year, in which he would have had a good 2nd place finish in the 9-furlong Haskell among other tries.

Me and My Gals is out of an unraced Unbridled mare, who happens to be the daughter of Kentucky Oaks winner Gal in a Ruckus.  Me and My Gals’s catalog page can be found here

2YO Non-Graded Stakes Results:
9/2/11 Gold And Roses S.- SAR- Winner: Zow- chart
9/4/11 Northern Lights Futurity- CBY- Winner: Heliskier- chart
9/5/11 Simcoe S.- WO- Winner: Menlo Castle- chart
9/5/11 Aspirant S.- FL- Winner: Bay Park Boy NP- chart
9/5/11 I'm Smokin S.- DMR- Winner: Ruler of Dubai- chart

8/29/11 Sum of the Parts CD- 5F- 1.00:60- B- 1/21
8/30/11 J C's Pride SAR- 5F- 1.02:84- B- 5/8
8/30/11 Bay Park Boy SAR- 4F- 52:98- B- 16/16
8/31/11 Power World SAR- 5F- 1.00:12- B- 2/28
8/31/11 Union Rags FH- 4F- 50:40- B- 8/8
8/31/11 Brown Eyed Jozi LAD- 3F- 40:00- B- 10/11
9/1/11 Majestic City DMR- 5F- 59:00- H- 1/21
9/2/11 Creative Cause DMR- 6F- 1.12:20- H- ¼
9/3/11 Thursby FH- 5F- 1.02:00- B- 8/22
9/3/11 Worthington REM- 5F- 52:38- B- 81/93
9/4/11 Sweet Swap DMF- 4F- 47:00- H- 1/31
9/4/11 Twelve Hundred AP- 6F- 1.13:00- B- 1/2


Top 2YO Speed Figures
Top winning 2yo BRIS figs last week: Officer Prado-103; Norm's Passion-99; Little Shane-98; She Digs Me-96; Alpha-96; Speightscity-95

Winning 2yo Beyers last week: Officer Prado-86; Norm's Passion-90; Little Shane-78; She Digs Me-87; Alpha-84; Speightscity-80

Other notable 2yo Beyer last week: Me And My Gals - 95. BRIS speed by circuit not available for HOO

*Source: DerbyContenders Twitter

2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Scores and Odds
2012 Kentucky Derby: GoHorseBetting