Five Takeaways You Need to Know From Remsen Stakes Weekend

Dornoch, Sierra Leone Remsen Stakes, Aqueduct, Eclipse Sportswire
Dornoch, inside, gamely battled back to defeat Sierra Leone (No. 7) by a nose after being headed in the stretch of a thrilling edition of the $250,000 Remsen Stakes Dec. 2 at Aqueduct. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Tom Pedulla presents five takeaways from coast-to-coast action that includes the Remsen Stakes, Demoiselle Stakes, and Cigar Mile Handicap, all Grade 2 races on Saturday at Aqueduct, and two prestigious Grade 1 contests on Saturday and Sunday at Del Mar.

Dornoch, Remsen Stakes, Mage, 2024 Kentucky Derby, Danny Gargan, Eclipse Sportswire
Remsen winner Dornoch (Eclipse Sportswire)

FULL OF FIGHT: It takes more than talent for a horse to be regarded as a Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve prospect. He must have an immense will to win to go along with speed and stamina if he is to be a serious player on the first Saturday in May. Dornoch showed that when he re-rallied inside to edge Sierra Leone by a nose to win the 1 1/8-mile Remsen. The victory was worth 10 qualifying points on the Road to the 2024 Derby. “As soon as the other one came to him, he saw him and he want to beat him,” said winning jockey Luis Saez. “I can’t describe this. He wants to win the race.” The Good Magic colt, a $325,000 yearling purchase, is a full-brother (same dam [mother], same sire [father]) to Mage, this year’s Kentucky Derby winner.

UP NEXT: Trainer Danny Gargan intends to back off Dornoch for a bit following the Remsen. “He’s a big, big horse. We are going to give him some time off and take him down to Palm Meadows [Training Center],” Gargan said of the Boynton Beach, Fla., facility. His plan is to tack walk the youngster for two or three weeks before resuming serious training with an eye toward a possible start in March. The Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes is set for March 2 at Gulfstream Park with the Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby there on March 30. Dornoch gained valuable seasoning as a juvenile, winning half of his four starts with a pair of runner-up efforts.

KENTUCKY OAKS HOPEFUL: Owner Mike Repole already had an early Derby contender in FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance victor Fierceness. Now, he has a promising filly for the Longines Kentucky Oaks after Life Talk registered an authoritative 3 ¾-length victory against Shimmering Allure in the Demoiselle. The front-running victory for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was worth 10 Oaks qualifying points. The daughter of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner had come in fourth in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her previous start. Pletcher captured his fourth consecutive Demoiselle. He extended his record with his ninth victory in the 1 1/8-mile race.

Hoist the Gold winning Cigar Mile (Eclipse Sportswire)

GREAT ADVICE: When Hoist the Gold came in sixth in the Qatar Racing Breeders' Cup Sprint on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park with John Velazquez aboard, the jockey urged trainer Dallas Stewart to target the Cigar Handicap. “He told us at the Breeders’ Cup the horse doesn’t like dirt in his face,” recalled Stewart. “He said, ‘Just let me ride him the way I want, run him a mile at Aqueduct and he won’t get beat.’ ” Hoist the Gold took control early in the Cigar and never looked back in winning by 4 ½ lengths against late-running Senor Buscador. The victory allowed the 4-year-old son of Mineshaft to become racing’s newest millionaire with more than $1.1 million in earnings.

ALL CHAD BROWN: East Coast fans are accustomed to seeing trainer Chad Brown excel at turf races. These days, he also is asserting himself in a big way on the West Coast. Owner Seth Klarman and Brown combined to win the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar with Program Trading on Saturday. They doubled their fun by taking the Matriarch Stakes on Sunday at the picturesque track with Surge Capacity. Beyond that, Brown trainees occupied the top four finishing positions in the Matriarch with Fluffy Socks, Beaute Cachee and Whitebeam following Surge Capacity. Brown won the Matriarch for the sixth time in the last seven editions.

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