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Homeracing

Weekend preps yielded various Breeders' Cup clues

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TwinSpires Staff

September 19th, 2017

by DICK POWELL

Monday night's $400,000 Presque Isle Masters (G2) had some interesting aspects for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). In the past, the race has yielded MUSICAL ROMANCE, who used the Masters as a prep before winning the F&M Sprint in 2011, and then in 2012 and 2013 GROUPIE DOLL did it twice.

The race is on a lot of trainers' radar, and when Woodbine pulled out its Polytrack and went with Tapeta for its main track, the Canadians were front and center. Sunday night, GIGANTIC BREEZE slipped up the rail with Mario Pino and won the $200,000 Presque Isle Mile by four lengths over last year's winner GHOST HUNTER.

This was Gigantic Breeze's first start away from Woodbine and he came in off a pair of graded stakes-placed finishes on their Tapeta track, so he was no surprise and was the second betting choice at 2-1.

On Monday, a field of 12 was assembled for the Masters and another Woodbine shipper was successful, but the question was which one since four starters had their last races at Woodbine. The public jumped all over AMI'S MESA and made her the 13-10 favorite based on her two straight graded stakes wins on the Tapeta at Woodbine.

With the outside runners dominating the early going, Luis Contreras had Ami's Mesa on the far outside behind a fast pace, but she was out in the clear and that was more important than trying to save ground against a bulky field. She rallied five wide and, after a half-mile was run in :45.18 seconds, she poured it on as the two front runners were not coming back.

They hit six furlongs in an improbable 1:08.62 and Ami's Mesa hit the wire a length ahead in a track-record time of 1:14.68 for the 6 1/2 furlongs. Bar of Gold, who just missed in the race last year, was second and the speedy CAVALIA held on for third for leading trainer Gerry Brooks.

What makes Ami's Mesa fascinating is that she has never even raced on dirt, let alone won on it. She has a strong dirt pedigree, and being an Ontario-bred it makes sense for her to race at Woodbine. Throw out her two failed turf tries and she is now 7-6-1-0 on Tapeta with three straight graded stakes races. Definitely, someone to watch.

***

Churchill Downs held a pair of two-year-old graded stakes on Saturday and one had a winner with a future. The Iroquois (G3) was first at the 1 1/16-mile distance on the dirt and Larry Rivelli's THE TABULATOR sat off an even pace and held on by three parts of a length ahead of the 13-10 favorite HOLLYWOOD STAR.

The winner broke his maiden by nine lengths on the synthetic track at Arlington Park going 4 1/2 furlongs then showed up at Prairie Meadows and won a stakes race there on the dirt going six furlongs where he rallied from off the pace. He has a big pedigree being sired by the red-hot Dialed In out of a dam by Giant's Causeway, so two turns on the dirt was no surprise.

Hollywood Star sat off the pace and commenced a wide rally to get second. The negative I saw going forward was that he was grinding and not accelerating. He should handle longer distances but might have to drop back even further and make that one big run.

In the Pocahontas (G2) for juvenile fillies going the same distance on the dirt, the betting public sent off half the field of 12 at single-digit odds and they still didn't come up with the winner. 24-1 longshot PATRONA MARGARITA, coming off a third-place effort in a Texas-bred stakes at Lone Star Park, overcame post 11 in a wide trip before dominating in the lane to win by almost four lengths. Unless I am terribly wrong, I don't see anyone coming out of this race to do anything significant.

***

Up at Woodbine on Saturday in the Woodbine Mile (G1), WORLD APPROVAL broke so well from post 1 Johnny Velazquez had to go on with him. The five-year-old gelding would not let any of the outside horses come over on him to take away his inside position and Velazquez rationed out his speed with fractions of :23.79, :23.68 and :23.84. He had the lead at the top of the long stretch and World Approval threw a last quarter of :22.74 at them.

It was a brilliant display of riding by Velazquez and the he had an answer for every question thrown at him. World Approval justified the public's support by paying $6.70 to win as the favorite, but everyone was expecting him to take back a bit and make one run through the lane. Sometimes, you can lose a race by breaking too good but the cagey Velazquez used it to his best advantage.

LANCASTER BOMBER, the only three-year-old in the field, had severe traffic problems in the stretch and Wayne Lordan finally extricated him from his claustrophobic situation to close for second. He only had to carry 112 pounds, but showed that it would be worth it for him to come back for the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) going two turns.

(Nicolle Neulist photo)

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