By Dick Jerardi
Horses from the barns of the two Parx trainers with the most stakes caliber talent went north and south over the long July 4 weekend and acquitted themselves quite well in graded stakes, finishing in front of everything except odds-on winners.
And the “weekend’’ finally ended Tuesday when Parx ran its first open stake of 2021, the $200,000 Grade III Dr. James Penny Memorial at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
John Servis sent two fillies to Delaware Park Saturday for the Grade III $300,000 Delaware Oaks. Midnight Obsession (Main Line Racing Stable) and Leader of the Band (SMD Limited) finished second and third so they are now graded stakes placed.
They just happened to run into the 1-5 Ken McPeek-trained Crazy Beautiful who won the race by 6 lengths. It was the third Oaks win of the year for Crazy Beautiful after previously getting the Gulfstream Park Oaks and Summer Oaks at Santa Anita. The CCA Oaks and Alabama could be on her schedule as well as the Sept. 25 Grade I $1 million Cotillion at Parx.
In his first stakes try after breaking his maiden and winning an optional claimer at Parx, the Butch Reid-trained Ridin With Biden (Cash Is King LLC and LC Racing) ran a phenomenal race in Monday’s $250,000 Grade III 1-mile Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park. Sent right to the lead by the great Irad Ortiz, Jr. Ridin With Biden was still leading in deep stretch before getting passed by the unbeaten (3-for-3) $1.5 million yearling First Captain (Terry Finley’s West Point Thoroughbreds is part owner).
Trainer Shug McGaughey was talking Travers with First Captain. Ridin With Biden was beaten by just 1 3/4 lengths while finishing second. The winner earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure while Riden With Biden got an 87
Reid has two very talented 3-year-olds in Beren and Ridin With Biden. Beren is already at Saratoga getting ready for the July 30 Curlin Stakes. Down the road, there is the Aug. 24 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx and, of course, the $1 million Grade I Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 25 for 3-year-olds.
The “Doc Penny’’ went to 1-1 favorite Princess Grace. The 4-year-old filly has now won 4 of 5 starts, with her lone loss by a half-length. The Penny was her first start since November for trainer Michael Stidham. Jockey Joe Bravo kept her just off the pace and when a hole opened up on the rail, horse and rider took it. And they needed every bit of a good trip to run down 6-1 Madita right before the wire.
As we hit July and the second half of the racing season, all of the big national races are, one way or another, preps for the first weekend of November when the Breeders’ Cup returns to Del Mar.
There were three “Win and You’re In’’ races over the weekend and two more races that featured defending champions in dominating double-digit length wins.
Max Player upset Dubai World Cup winner Mystic Guide in Saturday’s Suburban Stakes at Belmont Park to earn a BC Classic berth. The Parx-based, Uriah St. Lewis-owned and -trained Informative finished fifth after his amazing win at 79-1 in the Salvator Mile.
Mind Control beat Firenze Fire after a race-long duel in the John Nerud at Belmont, getting an automatic spot in the BC Sprint. Ce Ce the only Grade I winner in the field won Princess Rooney at Gulfstream Park to earn a spot in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint.
Defending BC Dirt Mile winner Knicks Go could not have been any more impressive at Prairie Meadows on Friday while crushing the field by 10 1/4 lengths in the Cornhusker Handicap and getting a 113 Beyer figure. Defending BC Filly & Mare Sprint champ Gamine overwhelmed the field in the Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos Monday, winning by 10 lengths. She is now unbeaten in seven one-turn races, winning by a combined 55 lengths. So the four-month race to Del Mar has officially begun. The Haskell, Travers, and Pa. Derby. The Alabama and Cotillion. The Whitney and Woodward. The Hopeful and Champagne. All the great fall races at Keeneland and Santa Anita. Check out all the big races. They are the tests on the way to the final exams at Del Mar.