Barn Notes: Friday, August 22, 2014
In Today's Notes: Annulment Pucker Up-bound after Hatoof Win; La Tia Weighs Options after Big Beverly D. Effort; Big Kick 'Good' after Subpar American St. Leger Showing
ANNULMENT PUCKER UP-BOUND AFTER HATOOF WIN
G. Watts Humphrey, Jr.'s Annulment is bound for a return to Arlington International Racecourse for a third consecutive run this meet after winning the first division of the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes on Arlington Million Day. Trained by Victoria Oliver at her Kentucky base, the daughter of Broken Vow won a blanket finish under Javier Castellano.
"She came out very good," Oliver said. "The plan is hopefully to take her to the (Grade III $150,000) Pucker Up (Stakes on Sept. 13)." Previous to the Hatoof, the homebred dark bay filly was a last-place finisher of 10 in the Grade III Arlington Oaks, where she was basically eased by jockey Florent Geroux – finishing 21¼ lengths behind the nearest competitor.
"I just don't think she likes the Polytrack at all," Oliver reflected. "I don't think she handled it. She is a turf filly and she proved it Saturday. I was worried down the backside because they went so slow and was thinking maybe Castellano should let her move, but he was patient and she ended up being able to finish up a nose in front. Luckily, she's a pretty game filly and tries really hard the last sixteenth. The further, the better with her. I think she'll be best at mile and an eighth. She broke her maiden last year at that distance."
A daughter of the Fusaichi Pegasus mare After Thought – herself a half-sister to Humphrey's Grade I turf mare Centre Court – Annulment could be heading back to Keeneland if she shows well in the Pucker Up. "I would probably look at the (Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup) if she wins, but I also have a nice filly named Personal Diary who just won the (Grade I) Del Mar Oaks going there. It's a nice problem to have to have two good fillies. I have had a horse in the Pucker Up in the last couple years and have had some bad luck, so I am probably due for some good luck."
LA TIA WEIGHS OPTIONS AFTER BIG BEVERLY D. EFFORT
Hernandez Racing Club's La Tia gave local fans a thrill through the majority of the stretch in the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. on Aug. 16, leading all the way until the last sixteenth of a mile and losing by 1½ lengths at odds of nearly 11-1. The Armando De La Cerda trainee improved upon her fifth-place finish in 2013 and was beaten by Group/Grade I-level horses in Royal Ascot-placed winner Euro Charline, Breeders' Cup winner Stephanie's Kitten and Irish classic winning Just The Judge. After the race, the filly seems no worse for the wear, according to her connections.
"She's very happy right now," De La Cerda reported. "After the race, she wasn't too tired like she usually is. I don't know if she thought she won, or not, but she was very happy with her race and you could tell. I gave her four days of walking and she started galloping yesterday and came back pretty good yesterday and today from the track."
A half-length from being Grade I-placed, La Tia now will look at races at a variety of venues. "I'll look at Canada," De La Cerda said. "She lost by two lengths last year there (in the Grade II $300,000 Canadian Stakes) and she's better horse this year. There is also a handicap (at Woodbine) on September 6 on the Polytrack for her to build her confidence back. If she goes there for the handica, I might look at running her back in the Grade I (First Lady) Stakes at a mile on the grass at Keeneland. I also am going to look at the $200,000 Grade III (Noble Damsel) at Belmont, too."
BIG KICK 'GOOD' AFTER SUBPAR AMERICAN ST. LEGER SHOWING
One of the most notably disappointing performances of the International Festival of Racing was that of Ernest Marchosky, Ken Shaw, Kate Walters and Lo Hi Stable's California invader Big Kick in the Listed $400,000 American St. Leger. A flash wire-to-wire winner of Santa Anita's iconic marathon, the Grade II San Juan Capistrano, the son of Tiznow flashed his early foot before quickly wilting 1 1/8 miles into the 1 11/16-miles race. According to his connections, he has exited the race well – despite his uncharacteristically poor performance.
"He came back good," reported trainer Mike Machowsky. "(Jockey) James (Graham) said the ground was a little too soft for him. He was climbing a bit. He's fine and he came out well."
The future may still be a bright one for the long-winded bay. "I'll run him in something here (in California)," Machowsky continued. "I'll even look at dirt races; he'll handle it. On Breeders' Cup Day, they have a mile and three-quarter dirt race that fits him." Said race is the Grade II Marathon Stakes. Also under consideration beforehand is the Grade II John Henry Turf Championship on Sept. 28 on the Santa Anita lawn.