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Barn Notes: Saturday, September 21, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/21/2013 #
  • Tamazula breaking her maiden Aug. 24 (Four Footed Fotos)

In Today’s Notes: Local Filly Tamazula Possibly Grade I-Bound; Apprentice Esquivel Hits Homestretch with First Clear Lead; Million Runner-Up The Apache to Champion Stakes

LOCAL FILLY TAMAZULA POSSIBLY GRADE I-BOUND
Hernandez Racing Club’s 2-year-old filly Tamazula is being aimed toward a possible tilt in the Grade I Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland on that track’s opening day, Oct. 4.  According to locally based trainer Armando De La Cerda, the filly is training extremely well leading into her next stakes attempt. 

“She worked today (five furlongs in 1:01.60 over the Arlington Polytrack) and beat another horse pretty easy – she’s not even tired right now.  She was running along very nice and she looks ready to go,” De La Cerda said.  “We’ll also look at the (Grade III Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack) on the same weekend, but that’s worth $150,000 and Keeneland’s is $400,000.  I’ll talk it over with the owner.”   

The two aforementioned stakes are possible for a filly who has beaten Tamazula in both of their meetings, She’s Offlee Good – though Tamazula had valid excuses in both races.  In their debut race on Aug. 1, Tamazula hopped at the break and ran on to finish third to She’s Offlee Good.  Last out, in the Listed $100,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie, Tamazula was entering off a short 14-day rest after a smashing maiden win on Aug. 24 in which she ran an impressive 90 Equibase Speed Figure.  Tamazula ran a good but tired fourth, beaten 2½ lengths by the again victorious She’s Offlee Good.

The Alcibiades and Mazarine would also be her first attempt at a distance of ground.  “I think she can handle the two turns,” De La Cerda explained.  “She doesn’t have to be in front and she’s a very smart filly.”

The star of the season in the De La Cerda barn is another Hernandez Racing Club filly, 4-year-old multiple stakes winner La Tia, who has one race left in her in 2013, according to the trainer.  The daughter of City Place ran fourth last Sunday in Woodbine’s Grade II Canadian Stakes – a Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf “Win and You’re In” event.  After setting a torrid pace, La Tia gave way to finish a respectable fourth, beaten three lengths. 

“She came out okay.  She’s feeling good today, so I think we’ll look at giving her one more race before giving her a rest.  There’s the ($100,000 Illini Princess Handicap) for Illinois-breds at the end of October,” reported De La Cerda.  “I think they went a little fast for her early at Woodbine, but she ran very well.  They broke a track record (nine furlongs in 1:44.05) in that race and she wasn’t too far off that.”

“I thought about running her at Keeneland in the (Grade I $400,000 First Lady Stakes on Oct. 5) at a mile, but it comes up too quick.  We’ll just run her one more time and send her to the farm for maybe a month and a half before aiming her toward some races at Gulfstream or Keeneland.  There are lots of races for her because we know she likes the Polytrack, too.  She won the (Grade III Arlington Oaks) here at Arlington and could aim for the (Grade III Arlington) Matron here next year.  We’ll probably look more at shorter races next year, too,” De La Cerda concluded.

APPRENTICE ESQUIVEL HITS HOMESTRETCH WITH FIRST CLEAR LEAD
Emmanuel Esquivel, who has spent a considerable portion of his first Arlington meet in an exciting battle atop the standings with James Graham, has finally pulled ahead of that rival going into the last six race days of the meet. With 78 wins to Graham’s 68, he is currently sporting his first clear advantage of the season. 

Still a five-pound bug rider, Esquivel has ridden 503 mounts this season to sport a 16% strike rate and 43% in-the-money mark.  Represented by Ben Allen, Esquivel will head to Hawthorne Race Course next – the track at which he rode his first meet this winter.  Graham is by no means down for the proverbial count, as he has multiple multi-win days this meet to substantiate the belief that he could possibly make a last-minute comeback. 

MILLION RUNNER-UP THE APACHE TO CHAMPION STAKES
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s The Apache, who finished first in the Grade I Arlington Million before being disqualified for interference and placed second to Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Real Solution, looks to finish first and stay there on the board in his next scheduled start, the Group I Champion Stakes at Ascot Racecourse on Oct. 19.  The Champion is the marquee middle distance race of the year in England, is the centerpiece of British Champions Day (the United Kingdom’s version of the Breeders’ Cup) and was the final race in Frankel’s historic undefeated career in 2012.  Carrying an alluring purse of $2,080,456, the Champion is also the aim of Wertheimer and Frere’s French Derby winner Intello, Shadwell Stable’s highly regarded Mukhadram and 2011 Champion victor and 2012 runner-up Cirrus Des Aigles, who entered 2013 as the highest-rated horse in the world following his respectable loss to Frankel.

Real Solution, on the other hand, is training in New York with Chad Brown and is being aimed toward a Breeders’ Cup Turf prep in the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational next Saturday, Sept. 28.  The son of 2004 Turf Classic winner Kitten’s Joy worked a maintenance five furlongs on the inner turf in 1:02.38 in what was his third work since annexing the Million.