Weekly Recap: Don’t Hold Me Back

The penultimate racing week on the inner track is in the books as there are only five racing days left on the winterized surface.  Only one stakes race was run this week, the Distaff (G2) on Saturday and it was won by stakes winner Secret Gypsy, who picked up her first graded tally.  Kudos to trainer Ronny Werner who spotted what was a very soft event for his filly to pick up her first graded stakes win.

Leading rider Ramon Dominguez had 12 wins this week, which of course comes as no surprise and the colony lost one mainstay as Channing Hill announced he was moving his tack to Southern California.  He rode on Wednesday then departed and is named on two horses on Wednesday afternoon at Santa Anita.   A few familiar names showed up in the entries as well, including Bobby Frankel, signaling the return of snowbirds who vacated NY for the winter.  Expect a lengthy re-entry over the coming weeks, especially once racing returns to the main track.

On the national stage the only prep for the Kentucky Derby was the $500,000 Lane’s End (G2) at Turfway and it was won by Hold Me Back.  A son of Giant’s Causeway, Hold Me Back picked up his third career victory in four starts, with his only loss coming over the main track at Aqueduct in the Remsen.  He finished strongly and is unquestionably bred to handle classic distances, but he looks more like a synthetic wonder horse than a true Derby contender.  On the Lane’s End undercard Cliffy’s Future scored a win in the Rushaway as he roared home from off the pace in his first try over a synthetic track while in the care of trainer Darrin Miller.  He had previously finished third in an allowance race at Keeneland last fall won by Hold Me Back. 

Out west a couple of G2 stakes were run over the turf for older horses and Bobby Frankel’s Visit was heavily favored in Sunday’s Santa Ana while trying to give he and Juddmonte Farms a sweep of the weekend’s graded events.  She didn’t finish in the last quarter and checked in a close third.  In Saturday’s San Luis Rey Victor Espinoza showed why he is still one of the best around when it comes to speedsters going long.  He guided Midships to the lead and through fractions of 24.22, 48.53, 1:13.61, 1:38.58, 2:02.11, 2:25.63 he was nearly two lengths clear at the finish.  He is one of the main contenders for the San Juan Capistrano run on closing weekend at Santa Anita.

The upcoming week will be headlined by the world’s richest race, the $6 million Dubai World Cup (G1) for older horses on Saturday and the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream  for three year-olds thinking Derby.   See you on Tuesday for a look at the upcoming week.

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