Colonial Flag and Left a Message, second and fourth, respectively, in the Regret Stakes June 16 at Churchill Downs, arrived at Betfair Hollywood Park safe and well Wednesday for Saturday’s Grade I, $350,000 American Oaks—Presented by American Airlines—at 1 1-4 miles on turf.
Trainer Michael Matz, still lamenting the recent injury to Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, said Colonial Flag went to the track Thursday before schooling later in the paddock.
“I didn’t get a chance to look at the competition,” said Matz, “but I think she’s a real nice filly and I hope she fits. She’s getting better every race. She shipped in well and was good on the track today, so it’s up to her now.”
Tom Proctor indicated Left a Message arrived “fine” and is a “real nice filly to be around.” The trainer added the Mr. Greeley filly would stay in California and head for Del Mar after the race.
In other American Oaks developments, John Sadler said Thursday he is expecting a big effort from Lady of Shamrock.
“She probably should have won (the Grade II Honeymoon Handicap) last time,” the trainer said. “But she’s doing great. She’s going to love the mile and a quarter. I know the competition’s pretty good, but I like my horse.”
MARIO GUTIERREZ WINS ESPY AWARD FOR BEST JOCKEY
Mario Gutierrez, who rode I’ll Have Another to victories in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, was named top jockey at the ESPY awards Wednesday evening.
The winners in a wide variety of sports categories were determined by an internet vote. Gutierrez was chosen over fellow riders Javier Castellano, Ramon Dominguez and John Velazquez.
Gutierrez, who attended the event at the Nokia Theater, issued the following statement through his Twitter account; “Thank you everyone! It has been an incredible year. I could not have done it without the fans.”
SADLER, ELLIS EVALUATE HIGHWEIGHTS IN A GLEAM
John Sadler and Ron Ellis, who saddle the two top weights in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 A Gleam Handicap, evaluated their chances Thursday.
Sadler, who sends out $1.2 million earner Switch, said the 122-pound assignment is “a couple’’ more than he would have liked, but the 5-year-old mare is set for a big effort.
Her last race in the Desert Stormer was a little better than her first effort this year,” explained Sadler. “Six furlongs is a little short for her. Hopefully, that race got her ready for the A Gleam. She’s doing well and I think this is a make or break race for her. It should help that there’s a lot of speed in there.”
Ron Ellis, in Kentucky for the Keeneland Sales, said by telephone he expects Teddy’s Promise, who was handed a 120-pound impost, to bounce back from a disappointing fifth in the Desert Stormer.
“She broke slowly, bobbled and got stuck on the inside, which she doesn’t like,” said Ellis. “She’s drawn toward the outside Saturday and that should help.”
Teddy’s Promise has won four of seven on Cushion Track. One of the victories came in the Time To Leave Stakes May 6.
The A Gleam is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In’’ race. The Breeders’ Cup nominated winner will receive a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. Additionally, all entry fees will be waived and the winning owner will receive a $10,000 travel allowance.
SUTHERLAND AUTOGRAPH SESSION SET FOR SATURDAY
One week after her historic victory aboard Game On Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup, jockey Chantal Sutherland will participate in an autograph session Saturday, July 14, at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The first female rider to win the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup, Sutherland will be available from 12-1 p.m. near the Paddock Tote Board.
Post time Saturday is 1 p.m. The 10 race program includes four stakes – topped by the $350,000, Grade I American Oaks – Presented by American Airlines – and the $200,000, Grade II A Gleam Handicap.
CLOSING STRIDES— In addition to the American Oaks and A Gleam Handicap, the male and female 2-year-old titles will be decided Saturday. The Grade III $150,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship is carded as the second race and features unbeaten Amarish, authoritative winner of the Willard L. Proctor Memorial June 16th. The $150,000 Landaluce Stakes, restricted to fillies, will go as the fourth. Bob Baffert’s scintillating maiden winner Executiveprivilege and Peter Miller -trained Cinderella Stakes winner Miss Empire head the list of eight entrants. Both races will be run at six furlongs….Saturday’s festivities also will include a rolling bag giveaway – one per paid admission while supplies last……The popular group X, one of the most influential punk bands of the last three decades, will headline the final Friday night concert of the Spring/Summer meet. The music begins following the final race, approximately 10:30 p.m. The concert is included with the $10 general admission – $20 for those arriving after 8:30 p.m…. Jay Privman, the national correspondent for Daily Racing Form, will be Kurt Hoover’s guest on Saturday’s Inside Scoop, a free handicapping seminar which begins at 12 Noon at the Paddock Tote Board…..Bob Baffert and Rafael Bejarano may be running away in the trainer and jockey standings, but the Thoroughbred leaders have been well bunched all meet. Four horses – Sizzling Gold, Missdealornodeal, Attack the Jack and Valkyrie Missile – are tied with three victories. Sixteen horses have won twice.
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