Samraat (outside) has covered more ground than Uncle Sigh (middle) in their two meetings this year (Photo by Coglinese Photos/Joe Lobezzetta).
Most American racing fans, and some surely beyond our shores, were smitten with the phenomenal competitiveness of last week’s Gotham Stakes, a fitting second course after the two main rivals, Samraat and Uncle Sigh, got after each other in the Withers. Samraat remains unbeaten, and has had to do more running than Uncle Sigh in both races. While the two-race combined margin between the horses is about 1 ¼ lengths, Samraat’s been doing his running from the outside, covering wider trips, and potentially inflating the legitimate gap between the two horses.
In the Withers, Samraat was planted wide throughout, covering 31 feet more than Uncle Sigh. In last Saturday’s Gotham, the same trip ensued, but Uncle Sigh raced in the two path, with Samraat a bit farther out. In Trouble, a new opponent in the fray enjoyed a rail run throughout. Quantitatively, Samraat covered 30 feet more than Uncle Sigh in the Gotham, and 61 feet more than ground-saving In Trouble. Those margins approximate to 3 ½ and seven lengths, respectively.
Let’s do the math. From the last two races, Samraat has covered 31 and 30 feet more than Uncle Sigh, a combined distance of about seven lengths of extra ground. Samraat, a son of Noble Causeway, has gained a diversity of experience in five lifetime starts. While always forwardly placed, the Rick Violette-trainee has been alone, in a two-horse duel planted wide, or even wider in a bigger field, as was the case in the Gotham. Regardless, he clearly keeps fighting, and winning. Knowing how crazy the Kentucky Derby experience can be for some, this trip diversity can only help the New York-bred going forward.
Gala Award, making his first start of a maiden win, managed a narrow victory in the Palm Beach Stakes on the grass at Gulfstream. The Todd Pletcher trainee was drawn in gate nine and covered the second-widest trip in the field of twelve. Overall, the son of Bernardini covered 12 feet more than second Mr. Speaker and 40 feet more than rail-drawn third-placer Storming Inti.
GALA AWARD STOLE THE SHOW IN THE PALM BEACH STAKES
Photo by Coglinese Photos/Natalie Fawkes
The performance of Mr. Speaker was noteworthy. Last after the first quarter-mile, he was set alight by Jose Lezcano beginning the run down the backstretch and catapulted to sixth before being switched-off, guided to the outside, and set down after the leaders. Mr. Speaker ran the final seven furlongs of the Palm Beach in 1:20.75, 1.32 seconds faster than the pace attending Gala Award. In the four-furlong segment from the five-eighths pole to the eighth-pole, Mr. Speaker ran 0.54 seconds faster than Gala Award, clocking that distance in 45.66 seconds.
Tampa Bay Derby this weekend
Vinceremos rode the rail to victory in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs last time, and one has to figure many are potentially looking to play against him if the draw is not in his favor for Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby. Fourth and fifth placers from the Davis, Matador and Asserting Bear, covered 35 and 42 feet more than Vinceremos, with both horses averaging a quicker speed throughout the race than the narrow winner. The subsequent form from the Davis might concern more than the ground coverage of the also-rans, though. Second home Harpoon, who suffered a zig-zagging stretch run in the Davis, failed to get back in the frame, running fifth beaten 5 ¾ lengths in the aforementioned Gotham.