Weekend Overview: Woodbine hosted the major action of the weekend and the races provided a good mixture between being formful and downright crazy. I was surprised to see Champs Elysees made the favorite in the Canadian International. I would have thought that Jukebox Jury with his flashy European form would command most of the attention but the public got it spot on. Lahaleed raised some eyebrows with her win in the E.P. Taylor off of very little back form. It's no surprise that she was 44/1 but evidently North America suits her very well because she never would have handled Rainbow View back home. I hope people have noticed that once again the three year olds did so well against their elders. Lahaleeb and Rainbow View completed the exacta in the E.P. Taylor with Eastern Aria running 4th and Jukebox Jury almost won the International for the sophomore class. On the heels of wins by Summer Bird and Gitano Hernando it appears that the older horses are weaker than usual. I was pretty surprised to see Gozzip Girl run as flatly as she did. I overestimated her quality by quite a bit. She's a good horse but pretty ordinary amongst her peers. She won't be a factor in the Breeders' Cup. Jackson Bend raised an eyebrow or two when he won the In Reality at Calder earning a 100 Beyer. He had a tough trip but he overcame the adversity and was very impressive. The steady little Canadian El Brujo won his second consecutive Graded Stakes race south of the border. He doesn't get big figures but he just keeps plodding along. His great form makes the suspension of Hollywood Hit look all the more unfortunate. Hollywood Hit was on a major hot streak, it's a shame to see him sidelined for 90 days because he had a tranquilizer in his system. I know there are differing viewpoints on that subject but I think it's unfair to suspend the horse specifically.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: The standings have finally been updated, I missed doing it last week because I was out of town but quite honestly things did not change as much as I thought they might. Zenyatta confirmed herself as the Older Female to beat. The Older Males lost yet another race to the three year olds in the Goodwood and Magical Fantasy continued to dominate the west coast turf. Forever Together is now forced into a position where she definitely has to win the BC Filly and Mare Turf if she wants to be champion again. Magical Fantasy has built up too much of a lead otherwise. Gayego burst onto the Male Sprinters scene and suddenly has a mathematical chance of reaching first place. The BC Sprint will be a major determining factor as it should be but sadly Fatal Bullet's meager campaign leaves him out of the running.
Power Rankings: Perhaps the tightest division right now is the Two Year Old Female division. There really isn't much to separate the best from the rest. There is a difference of just 3.42 from 1st to 5th. Nearctic winner Field Commission is sneaking up the sprinter standings. A good showing in the BC Turf Sprint may actually make him one of the year's top 5 sprinters. Girolamo is also among the upwardly mobile. He is now just 6th among active Three Year Old Males. It looks like there is more to come from this Godolphin colt as well.
Performance of the Week: There is no question that Jackson Bend was the most impressive performer of the week. If you have not seen the In Reality Stakes then go to Thoroughbred Times and check it out. This site, in case you weren't aware, has free links to stakes races both graded and ungraded. Jackson Bend was looking for a sweep of the Florida Stallion series but it looked unlikely after he went down to his nose soon after the break. Young horses rarely come back from that but he regained his rhythm pretty quickly and was in a good stalking position down the backside. Jeffrey Sanchez likely went for home a bit prematurely around the far turn and Jackson Bend again looked in real trouble as Thank U Phillipe came right up beside him near the 1/8th pole. But Jackson Bend fended off the challenge and went on to win by nearly 3 lengths! It was an unbelievable race, certainly the best route performance by any 2yo this year. The 100 Beyer figure confirms the class of the event. It's the highest number earned by a juvenile going two turns. Jackson Bend has now won 5 of 6 starts and is the only horse to have defeated D'Funnybone. Put him on your short list of horses to watch in the future.
Race of the Week: I thought the Nearctic Stakes was the most engaging of the weekend. Turf sprints tend to always be a little hectic and this one was no exception. Maybe I liked the race so much because of the good performances by Field Commission and Jungle Wave. I have a soft spot for these two Canadian based sprinters. Field Commission made an excellent move in the stretch to come between horses then flash by the dueling leaders. Maybe a few of these will turn up at Santa Anita in a few weeks. I don't think they'd be too over matched.
Flop of the Week: I think it likely has to be Gozzip Girl or Look Here. Gozzip Girl was facing a very ordinary cast of 3yo fillies and she had previously suggested that she was a great deal more than ordinary. That illusion is certainly dispelled. Look Here just never raised a hoof in the E.P Taylor. Here is a filly that won the Epsom Oaks, finish third against 3yo males in the St Leger and had been narrowly denied in a pair of tough graded stakes against older males. So what happens when she faces the softest field since her second career race? She runs next to last.
Tip O'the Cap: A horse I have been hard on for virtually all his career is Champs Elysees. He was bred to be a great one and I suppose it was the weight of expectation that resulted in the perception that he was an underachiever. But now with his career now ended I think he deserves a bit of a salute. The Canadian International was likely his greatest performance. He closed with a lot of determination to get Jukebox Jury. He may have only won six times but he struck three times at the G-1 level. All in all he was a solid performer. He was not in the same bracket as his illustrious siblings but 3 G-1 wins is a good haul for any horse. His racing career was not one that will attract breeders but the blood that flows through his veins could only be described as royal blue. I wish him the best of luck at stud.