Noble Moon was the star of the weekend when he won the Jerome Stakes by two lengths (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).
Put that yule log aside. We are firmly into 2014 and the racing last weekend provided us with more insight to the fantastic six months ahead as the journey through the Triple Crown warms us. Let’s take a look back at some of this weekend’s action with noteworthy data.
Last Saturday’s Jerome Stakes yielded a result the public predicted with relative ease. 4-5 favorite Noble Moon, drawn on the rail with Irad Ortiz, broke well and went forward, chasing 85-1 shot Pin and Win. Racing just to his outside for the first half of the race, and covering some extra ground, Noble Moon spurned that outmatched rival heading to the far turn and secured a ground-saving run around the final turn. The son of Malibu Moon was pursued throughout, but never yielded and won by a tidy two lengths.
Meanwhile, second choice Classic Giacnroll, ridden by Alex Solis, was away from the gate in the back half of the field, then slightly forced outside by Jose Ortiz aboard 7-1 shot Lawmaker heading into the first turn. As such, Classic Giacnroll raced anywhere from four-to-six wide through that first bend, all while advancing closer to the front. Through the first turn, Noble Moon had traveled 38 feet less than Classic Giacnroll. Through the first three-eighths, the extra ground required Solis’s mount to average a speed of 38.1 MPH compared to Noble Moon’s 37.6 MPH.
It was a slightly smoother trip for Classic Giacnroll on the second turn, only running three wide, while Noble Moon cruised on the rail. The son of Giacomo never seemed to have his nose in front, and understandably flattened in the final furlong, staying on for second. At the end of the Jerome, Classic Giacnroll covered 63 feet more than Noble Moon. That suggests Classic Giacnroll ran the equivalent of approximately 7.5 lengths more than Noble Moon. Beaten just two, it seems his performance in the Jerome was particularly strong.
Earlier on Aqueduct’s Saturday program, the Busanda Stakes saw Bobby Flay’s sophomore filly Fierce Boots go gate-to-wire for the upset win at 8-1. Alex Solis was aboard Fleet of Gold and finished third at 7-1, beaten four lengths. In a similar trip to what he would experience two races later in the Jerome, Fleet of Gold covered 62 feet more than the winner. In his two stakes mounts in New York on Saturday, Solis-ridden horses covered 125 feet more than the winners, equating to approximately 14 ½ lengths of extra ground. Fortunately, he did win with his only other mount on the card, in a $52,000 allowance race, and by almost ten lengths.
FIERCE BOOTS (inside) WINS THE BUSANDA
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Sunday’s Ginger Brew Stakes for 3-year-old fillies saw Candy Kitty shut off in mid-stretch, angle out across the back of rivals, and propel onward for a length win over $2.6 million yearling Miss Besilu. Despite the fact she finished outside of horses, Candy Kitty had a perfect ground-saving trip until she got the breaks to slip out, running on impressively. While that versatility is commendable, Edgar Prado gave the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid a phenomenal ride for the win. Miss Besilu, with Jose Lezcano up, was drawn in the widest gate and races no less than three wide the trip. Overall, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro covered 40 feet more than Candy Kitty and certainly has room to improve.
CANDY KITTY AFTER WINNING THE GINGER BREW STAKES
Photo courtesy of Coglinese Photos/Lauren King
As we readily acknowledge, with frequency, ground saving can often yield late race trouble, tiring horses, tight spots, and other blockages. In a January 3rd allowance race for 3-year-olds, and with at least a few Kentucky Derby-related rumblings around this field, Commissioner saved the most ground and won by a neck over Top Billing, who endured significant traffic and some stretch bumping. Third placer Hy Kodiac Warrior, though, was beaten 2 ¼ lengths, but covered 44 feet more than Commissioner and 27 feet more than Top Billing, both distances more than his margins to the top pair.
It took Cougarontheprowl a while to get to the races, but the daughter of Unbridled’s Song made her debut a winning one in Sunday’s second race. Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, she covered the widest trip in the compact field of six, going 31 feet more than second-placer Lyla Della and 28 feet more than third home Caribe d’Oro. Both of those rivals were third-time starters, emerging from races last summer, so the quality of the competition left something to be desired. Still, for a late bloomer just getting going, it was an encouraging win given the extra ground coverage. Cougarontheprowl, co-owned by Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing, averaged 39.0 MPH throughout the race, while the Lyla Della and Caribe d’Oro both checked in at 38.5 MPH. The final margin was just 1.5 lengths, but the trip suggests it was better than that.