5-10. We're still waiting for our real breakout day of the meet. If we had gone 6-for-10 we probably we have said we had it -- but it was still a good afternoon as the vast majority of public handicappers hit in the 2-3 winner range on Friday. The difference for us came early with winners in the 1st and 2nd for a very nice $161.50/$2 cold daily double. Five winners on top (1st, $15.20; 2nd, $19.40; 4th, $6.20; 8th, $5.00; 10th, $4.90). Our top pick bested our third selection for exactas in the 8th ($17.80/$2) and 10th ($19.20/$2). We also had a reverse exacta in the featured Personal Ensign ($11.00/$2).
A solid Friday crowd of 22,095 turned out for another nice afternoon. Sunny and warm -- although the humidity was a little high. Prior to the G1 Personal Ensign all eyes in the paddock were focused on 2002 HOTY Azeri. Her win in the G1 Go For Wand was perhaps the emotional highlight of the season and folks wanted to get a look at the champ. In the meantime high-strung Storm Flag Flying had already been saddled and was absent from the paddock area. The race itself was probably in the books as they passed the first six furlongs in a blistering 1:09.3. Pat Day on Azeri had moved up to challenge the pace-setter Roar Emotion through those fast early fractions. At ten furlongs the pace was just too fast for even a former champ to handle and, in fact, respect must be given to Azeri considering she held on for second -- but in the lane it was 2002 2YO filly Eclipse winner closing to get up late and win her first G1 since that freshman season. It was actually quite apt that McGaughey/Phipps won the race titled the Personal Ensign.
After the races the usual Friday night crowd jammed into neighboring Siro's to get their party weekend started. Spotted among the crowd were celebrity chef Bobby Flay and ESPN's Kurt Hoover.
ESPN will cover the Travers and undercard stakes from 5-7pm ET. If you can't make it to the track for the superb 12-race card, watch on TV!
Wilcox Ridge...Pletcher trainee should benefit from debut effort. Bred to go well on turf. Must get in from AE list.
Catsgotninelives...THree turf races all good.
Smart Growth...Trainer Sheppard going well this meet. Not a Sheppard Special because first-time starters don't really fit the profile for us -- but don't ignore this one that is bred to go well on the lawn, has a string of nice turf works, and is facing some long-time maidens in here.
Baron Von Tap.
Forestwood...Pletcher 3YO had two good-looking 7F starts at Gulfstream.
Jacob's Arch...Good improving numbers in three starts.
Labo entry...Lucky Guy is first off the claim and trainer is 30% there. Lucky Gamble just missed here last time behind a next-out winner.
Malheur...Pletcher/Velasquez 2YO made a big closing move after a poor start to just miss in debut. Expect improvement.
Survivalist...Bred to be a good one from McGaughey/Phipps.
Dynawhite...Trainer likes to have his 2YOs ready to run at this meet.
Miesque's Approval...Feel that he's better than his recent record and drop in for a tag might wake him up.
Fast Decision...Lightly raced since spring and might be ready to pop a big one today.
Stage Call...Graded stakes place and also should appreciate drop in for a tag.
Willy o'the Valley...Likes the trip. finished second here on 7/31 and winner that day came back to win stake at F'Lakes.
Coded Warning...Frankel 3YO might prefer this one-turn trip.
Mahzouz...Comes in off of two straight 7F wins at Belmont.
Governor Brown...Closed to just miss here last time. Should get a cozy trip from the two-hole.
Private Scandal...In good form this spring-summer.
Holy Panache...Should be in the mix late.
Mogador...Hasn't missed an exacta finish since last spring.
Halawellfin Hala...Finished behind top pick two back but looks to be on the improve.
Titanium Ghost...A little bit of an in-and-outer but certainly looks capable if ready for one of his 'in' efforts.
Sir Walter Rahy.
EIGHTH RACE -- Victory Ride $75K
Grey Traffic...Frankel filly really took to the Spa surface.
Irish Melody...Drops back to a sprint and that's probably her best game.
Feline Story...Toss out the Test. Had trouble there and met some good ones. This field isn't that tough.
NINTH RACE -- Fourstardave H'cp G2 $200K
Silver Tree...Let's not be a wiseguy and instead just look for a repeat of the 1-2 finish from the G2 Baruch.
Nothing to Lose...Was just behind top pick in that stake last time.
Royal Spy...Will try to take them as far as he can.
TENTH RACE -- King's Bishop G1 $250K
Bwana Charlie...Medallist can certainly rebound and run away with this but it looks like there might be one or two to go with that one and if so Bwana might be able to unleash the same closing kick that propelled him to a win in the G2 Amsterdam.
Fire Slam...Will also be rolling late.
Medallist...Goes back to one-turn and a rebound to the performance in the G2 Dwyer would be enough to whistle this field.
Ice Wynnd Fire.
ELEVENTH RACE -- TRAVERS G1 $1 mil
Sir Shackelton...Felt this was a real up-and-comer after the G3 Derby Trial win. Didn't fire then when moved into top company in the Preakness -- but seems to have shown some added maturity and improvement following a two-month break after that middle jewel. Looks to be able to sit third or fourth early and get first jump turning for home.
Lion Heart...The outcome of this race is really going to depend on the pace scenario. If Lion Heart gets out and leads comfortably (nobody else lapped on him through down the backstretch through legit fractions) than he is going to take this. He has been consistent and is proven at the trip -- sure Smarty Jones beat him in the Ky Derby, but Lion was ahead of the other sixteen runners that afternoon. We think Purge might challenge him early -- which will set it up for our top pick, but watch out, this guy is the real deal.
The Cliff's Edge...Can't envision them going fast enough for him to win it from his usual back-of-the-pack position -- but he can certainly grab a piece.
Purge...When he has his running shoes on he's one to contend with and last seems to indicate he likes this track -- but he's thrown in two clunkers in his last four races and that leads to a little lack of confidence on our part.
Settle Up...Very competitive this season and just missed in a similar event here last time.
Charlevoix...Will be very tough if able to sneak away from the rail.
Prep School...AE lister is usually in the hunt.
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