Tepin stretches out in Diana Stakes
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Though she has won all three of her starts in 2015, including the Grade 1 Just a Game, Tepin still has questions to answer in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Diana Stakes at Saratoga.
Primarily, can she get the 1 1/8 miles the Diana requires?
In six career starts on turf, Tepin has three wins and a second. Her two bad efforts on turf have come in races at 1 1/8 miles.
In the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs in June 2014, she finished last. Tepin “almost got put over the fence,” trainer Mark Casse said.
In the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August, where she again finished last, Tepin came out of the race with a problem that Casse believed to be a case of the thumps, an electrolyte imbalance.
“I wouldn’t base any opinions on those races,” Casse said Wednesday. “That all being said, I don’t know if she’ll go a mile and an eighth. I think the key is if Julien [Leparoux] can get her to relax early, because if she doesn’t relax, it’s going to be tough.”
Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Chad Brown have entered two in the Diana, with Kitten’s Queen a rabbit for Stephanie’s Kitten. That tactic didn’t work in the New York Stakes, where Kitten’s Queen finished in front of Stephanie’s Kitten. Both will have new riders Saturday, with Jose Ortiz riding Kitten’s Queen and Irad Ortiz Jr. riding Stephanie’s Kitten.
Stephanie’s Kitten finished second in last year’s Diana, a neck behind Somali Lemonade, and was a close third to Laughing in the 2013 edition.
Hard Not to Like, the winner of the Grade 1 Gamely last out, and the Bill Mott uncoupled duo of My Miss Sophia and Lady Lara also were entered in the Diana, which will go as race 10 on the 11-race card.
A field of 11 2-year-olds will vie in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sanford. That group is led by Cocked and Loaded and Paynes Prairie, first and second in the Tremont, and He’s Comin in Hot, the easy winner of the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs. The remainder of the field consists of Awesome Slew, John Q. Public, Magna Light, Percolator, Save the Drama, Sunny Ridge, Twirling Cinnamon, and Uncle Vinny.
Del Mar: San Diego Handicap
DEL MAR, Calif. – When Catch a Flight finished third as the 8-5 favorite in the $501,500 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27, the most frustrated person involved with the horse was jockey Gary Stevens.
Looking back, Stevens wished he had not urged Catch a Flight to the lead in early stretch and had waited longer
before making a move.
“I went to the lead too early, and they went by me,” Stevens said. “I didn’t like my ride. I’d like a do-over.”
The chance for redemption arrives Saturday when Catch a Flight starts in the $200,000 San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles at Del Mar. The Grade 2 San Diego is a prep for the $1 million Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 22, the track’s richest race.
Stevens argues that Catch a Flight will be better suited to the San Diego distance. He thinks the 5-year-old horse is capable of winning.
“I think shortening him up will help,” Stevens said. “I think a mile and a quarter is stretching it.”
Catch a Flight is proven at the San Diego distance. Trained by Richard Mandella, Catch a Flight won consecutive stakes at Santa Anita in May, the Grade 3 Precisioniset Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on May 2 and the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on May 30.
In the Gold Cup, Catch a Flight was fifth on the backstretch and made a move to the lead on the turn and into the stretch. He led by a head at the eighth pole and was beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Hard Aces, who finished a nose in front of Hoppertunity.
Hoppertunity is expected to be favored in the San Diego Handicap. Other contenders are Bayern, who is winless in two starts since a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita last November, and Majestic City, who won the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap in Texas on May 25 but was seventh after a poor start in the Gold Cup.
Monmouth: Jersey Shore
OCEANPORT, N.J. – Blame Jim and Jackson P look like the horses to beat when a field of seven 3-year-olds meets Saturday in the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Stakes at Monmouth Park. The $100,000 Jersey Shore is a sixfurlong sprint.
Blame Jim, trained by Todd Pletcher, is 2 for 6. In his last start, he was second best behind Noble Cornerstone in a second-level optional-claiming race at Belmont Park. Blame Jim put away the other frontrunners in that race but could not hold off the late-running Noble Cornerstone, who is now 5 for 11 in his career.
Jackson P, trained by Cathal Lynch, returned from a threemonth layoff in his most recent race to win a first-level, off-theturf allowance sprint at Parx. He is now 2 for 4.
Other contenders include Joe Franklin, who will make his first start for David Jacobson after being claimed from Kelly Breen for $50,000; twotime stakes winner Bluegrass Singer; and Hebbronville, an optional-claiming winner at Ellis Park in his last start for Lynn Whiting.
The field is completed by Forge Ahead Franki and W V Jetsetter.
Stephanie’s Kitten, shown training Wednesday, will run in the Diana for the third time Saturday.