Horses of all ages on display on both coasts

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

January 20th, 2019

On the same weekend in which the National Football League conference championships would determine which two teams will face one another in Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta next month, both thoroughbred and standardbred racing fans had plenty of quality action to watch on both coasts.

Early in the afternoon at Aqueduct, Solid Wager lived up to his name when he rallied from well off the pace to forge a mild 5-1 upset in the $100,000 Toboggan Stakes for older runners. A gelded son of Birdonthewire trained by Chris Englehart for owner Gary Barber, Solid Wager maintained his fondness for the seven-furlong events by getting the distance in 1:23.95 for his first win in two starts this year and his 11th victory in 49 career outings, pushing his earnings past $800,000. He looks like an ideal candidate for the Grade III, $250,000 General George Stakes at Laurel Park on February 16.

That same afternoon at Tampa Bay Downs, Win Win Win rebounded from his first career setback to capture the $110,000 Pasco Stakes by five lengths as the 8-5 second choice by whistling the seven panels in 1:20.89, a new stakes and track record. A sophomore son of Hat Trick (JPN) trained by Michael Trombetta, Win Win Win notched his third win in four starts and pushed his career earnings past $125,000 and looks destined to be a major player in the three-year-old sprint stakes.

Speaking of three-year-olds stakes, the Fair Grounds hosted a pair of events for sophomores looking to eventually earn a berth in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, respectively, on the first weekend in May.

In the Grade III, $200,000 Le Compte Stakes for three-year-old colts and geldings, War Of Will lived up to his billing as the 8-5 favorite when he rallied from midpack and drew clear late to a five-length score while getting the one-mile and 70 yards in 1:43.44. One race earlier on the card, Needs Supervision drew clear as the 5-2 second choice in the $75,000 Silverbulletday for three-year-old fillies by getting the one-mile and 70 yards in 1:45.34.

Both War Of Will and Needs Supervision look capable of enhancing their resumes in future stakes over the Fair Grounds surface. War Of Will recorded his second win from six starts and pushed his earnings past $250,000, while Needs Supervision has won three of four tries and earned nearly $170,000. In a pair of maiden special weight races for three-year-old colts contested at the same one-mile and 70-yard distance, Sharp Prospect won by five lengths in 1:44.16, while Frank'sgunisloaded scored by three lengths in 1:44.87.

Then in the $75,000 Benner Stakes for older sprinters, Wynn Time just lived up to his role as the 2-5 favorite when he stalked the early pace and then prevailed by a head in 1:10.78 for the six panels. An Illinois-bred gelding, Wynn Time kicked off his current campaign with a gritty score and now owns nine wins and $370,000 banked from 12 lifetime outings.

Less than an hour later at Santa Anita, two-time defending Breeders Cup Sprint champion Roy H easily lived up to his billing as the 3-10 favorite in the Grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes when he sat just off the early leader down the backside and through the turn, surged to command at the head of the lane then drew off to a four-length score in 1:08.89 under very confident handling from jockey Paco Lopez. A seven-year-old More Than Ready gelding trained by Peter Miller for the Rockingham Ranch, Roy H easily scored in his seasonal debut and notched his 10th win from 23 career outings and pushed his lifetime bankroll past $3.1 million.

Roy H and his connections also appear to have several memorable days ahead of them. This Thursday evening at Gulfstream Park, Roy H should garner the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter for 2018 and then two months from now he will likely head back to Meydan Race Course in Dubai for another shot at the Grade I, $2 million Golden Shaheen. Roy H had an awkward start to the Golden Shaheen last spring and eventually Mind Your Biscuits narrowly prevailed that night. But the Peter Miller trainee looks poised to redeem that setback in 10 weeks time.

Also on the Saturday card at Santa Anita, Dessman easily lived up to his role as the 4-5 favorite in his career debut when he captured a one-turn maiden special weight event by eight lengths in 1:11.37 for the six panels. A sophomore son of Union Rags trained by Bob Baffert, Dessman initially sold for $120,000 as a yearling then went for $750,000 as a two-year-old and Saturday afternoon he won at first asking to put the first small dent in his latest purchase price.

Tomorrow afternoon at Santa Anita, Baffert is poised to unveil a talented three-year-old filly named Flor de La Mar in a one-turn maiden special weight event for sophomore fillies. The daughter of Tiznow went for $500,000 as a yearling and has been working in company with Dessman in the mornings over the last two months and should be poised to score in her career debut on Sunday afternoon by getting the 6 1/2-furlongs in 1:17.75 as the odds-on choice in the fifth race on the card.

That same evening at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, Geez Joe (Marcus Miller) just lived up to his role as the 1-5 favorite in the $21,000 Preferred Handicap when he overcame an extended first over bid to overhaul longshot leader New Talent and just outlast the late bid of K Ryan Bluechip to score by a nose in 1:50.2. A five-year-old Maryland-bred Roll With Joe gelding trained by Erv Miller for Bay Pond Racing, Geez Joe notched his first win in two starts this year and now boasts 17 wins and $230,000 banked from 55 career outings.

Then one race later on the Meadowlands card as the snows arrived, Monty's Play (Pat Berry) just lived up to his role as the 3-5 favorite when he overcame post nine to gain command, carved out modest fractions and just outlasted the first over bid of Annihilation to score by a nose in 1:54.4. A four-year-old Maryland-bred son of Shadow Play trained by Scott DiDomenico, Monty's Play recorded his second win in three starts this year and now owns 12 wins from 37 career outings.