One of the biggest complaints from horseplayers and fans is that horses are retired too early, but you would never know that from the weekend stakes action, because the old guys ruled.
Leading the way was the seven-year-old Flat Out, who won the $350,000 Suburban Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park, his fifth win over the surface in six career starts, winning the race for the second time to go along with winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) twice.
Ridden by Junior Alvarado, the Bill Mott trainee tracked the early pacesetter Percussion and drew away to win by 2 ¼ lengths, returning $4.00 for the win. He earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure in the win.
Next up according to Mott will be the $750,000 Whitney Handicap (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 3.
Last Gunfighter ran second while last year’s Travers (G1) winner Alpha, making his first start since a fifth place finish in the Godolphin Mile (G2) checked in fifth.
Flat Out Wins Suburban
The six-year-old gelding Game On Dude is now perfect in four starts this year after winning the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Hollywood Park on Saturday afternoon. The gelding is has won five in a row since coming up short in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last November as the beaten favorite.
The Bob Baffert trainee is showing no signs of age, earning a 114 Beyer in becoming just the third horse to win the historic (and now last) Gold Cup more than once. Native Diver (1965-1967) and Lava Man (2005-2007) were three-time Gold Cup winners.
Next up according to Baffert likely will be the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar on Aug. 25 with the ultimate goal winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Game On Dude Wins Hollywood Gold Cup
One of the old guys did not rule the day as six-year-old Little Mike came up short in the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park as the beaten favorite, setting the early fractions and weakening to finish fourth. The gelding has now lost three in a row since winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last fall.
The race was won by five-year-old Big Blue Kitten for the Chad Brown barn. Jockey Joe Bravo snuck up the inside with a late rally to win by 1 ¼ lengths over runner up Teaks North, who is six years old. His Beyer came up light, earning just a 93, which was four points higher than he earned in his previous start, a runner up finish in the Monmouth (G2).
Big Blue Kitten Wins United Nations
We cannot forget to mention the seven-year-old Ben’s Cat, who won for the 22nd time in his 33 career starts when he won last Friday’s $200,000 Parx Racing Dash (G3).
He won for the third time in four starts this year, winning by 1 ¼ lengths over Tightend Touchdown, returning $4.60 for the win and earning a 103 Beyer for his effort.
Speaking of old guys, Ben’s Cat is trained by legendary King T. Leatherbury, who has been training for over 50 years and who turned 80 years old in March.
Leatherbury has started 35,325 horses in his long career with 6,395 winners. His most dominant years were in the mid 90’s and he has won close to 50 training titles in his career, racing primarily at Laurel Park, Pimlico, and Delaware Park.
Watching all of these old timers perform so well certainly put a little extra spring in my step this holiday weekend, as I am certainly no spring chicken myself.
Michael’s Saratoga Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Mike has been handicapping the New York Racing circuit on a daily basis for nearly three decades.
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