Weekend Recap: Photos Decide American, Virginia Derbies

War Dancer won a three-way photo to take the Virginia Derby (photo credit: Colonial Downs)

There was plenty of outstanding stakes action this past weekend, with Belmont Park, Hollywood Park and Colonial Downs closing out their meetings. The two races that stood out were the American Derby (G3) and Virginia Derby (G2), which were both decided by photos.

Both races were restricted to three-year-olds and are preps for the Secretariat Stakes (G1), which is one of the supporting feature races on the Arlington Million Day card at Arlington Park on Saturday, Aug. 17.

While the Secretariat tends to take a backseat to the Arlington Million for older turf runners  and the Beverly D. (G1) for fillies and mares, this year’s race is setting up to be an outstanding betting race.

Saturday’s American Derby at Arlington Park serves as the local prep for the Secretariat, and was won by Infinite Magic in an upset, the Richard Mettee trainee returning $27.20.

The son of More Than Ready won by a head over the betting favorite Admiral Kitty, and it was just a nose back to third place finisher Stormy Len.

The colt stopped the timer for the 1 3/16 miles over the turf course in 1:55.41 and won for the fourth time in nine career starts for owner Team Valor.

Infinite Magic won a three-way photo to win the American Derby at Arlington Park (photo credit: Arlington Park)

Team Valor’s Bradley Weisbord sent out a tweet indicating the colt was headed to the Secretariat along with his stablemate First Cornerstone, who is trained by Andy Oliver and checked in fifth in the Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) in his last outing.

The connections of both Admiral Kitty and Stormy Len also indicated they are heading to the Secretariat.

Another race that will likely produce starters for the Secretariat is the Virginia Derby (G2), which was run on Saturday at Colonial Downs on their closing night program, and a photo was needed to separate the top trio in that race as well.

The Ken McPeek trained War Dancer prevailed by a head with jockey Alan Garcia aboard to post the mild upset, returning $16.80 for the victory. The colt ran the 1 ¼ miles over the turf in 2:03.57.

The son of War Front held off Charming Kitten by a head, and it was just another head back to the third place finisher Jack Milton.

Charming Kitten saved ground along the inside, had to steady briefly looking for running room midstretch and finished up well to just miss.

Jack Milton also did not have the best of trips. The colt had to steady on the far turn, altered course toward the outside in the stretch and was flying at the finish to come up just short.

If all six of these three-year-olds make it to Arlington Park next month it is going to be an intriguing race to handicap and wager on.


Boisterous Picks up First Grade 1 Victory in Man o’War

The final graded stake of the spring/summer meeting at Belmont Park went to Boisterous, who won the Man o’ War (G1) going 1 3/8 miles on the turf for his first Grade 1 win. The six-year-old won his 11th race on turf in 21 career starts.

Trainer Shug McGaughey has plenty of options with the newly anointed millionaire. It looks as if the Sword Dancer (G1) on Aug. 17 at Saratoga or the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar is his top two choices.

“When we get up [to Saratoga Race Course] we’ll see how he’s doing. The Arlington Million I’m a little bit gun shy on because I don’t really understand why he ran bad there last year. Somebody said, ‘He didn’t run all that bad. He was ninth, beaten [5 ¾ lengths],’ but he ran bad,” McGaughey said.


Castellano, Jacobson Take Titles

Javier Castellano and David Jacobson landed on top of the jockey and trainer standings for the Belmont Park spring/summer meeting that concluded on Sunday. We have a four day break and Saratoga opens next Friday.

Javier Castellano was the top jockey at the Belmont Park meeting.

Castellano won 72 races from 316 mounts, booting home 14 more winners that runner up Junior Alvarado. Castellano’s mounts earned $3,796,616 and he won at a 23% clip at the meeting.

Jacobson saddled 44 winners from 168 starters, winning at a 26% clip with his horses earning $1,666,453. Todd Pletcher was second in wins with 27 starters and led all trainers in purse earnings with $2,908,601.

When Saratoga opens on Friday there will be plenty of extra mounts available with the retirement of Ramon Dominguez, who topped the 2012 Spa jockey standings with 68 winners from 288 mounts.

It is going to be a wide open race, with Castellano, Joel Rosario, and John Velazquez likely to battle it out for the title this summer.



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