This week’s column will not divert from the familiar summer racing havens of Saratoga and Del Mar. We have two events to discuss from mid-week as well as a Saturday stakes race.
Del Mar Race 4: #7 UNION REBEL
#4 ZICONIC, a son of the great Zenyatta, got all the headlines after narrowly losing to #6 DEAL WITH IT DUDE, but third-place finisher UNION REBEL could be a much more appealing bet-back in a similar spot.
UNION REBEL was floated four-wide attempting to press the pace under Norberto Arroyo Jr. into the first turn. From that point on there was little opportunity for UNION REBEL to tuck in, and as a result he was caught four-wide on the far turn as well.
Despite the ground loss, UNION REBEL made the lead at the top of the stretch but drifted out another two lanes before being corrected. From there he wilted under pressure from rail-riding DEAL WITH IT DUDE and late-closing ZICONIC to lose by a length.
In addition to this tough trip, UNION REBEL was combating a potential inside speed bias. Of the five dirt races run on Wednesday at Del Mar, all but one were won by horses that were forwardly-placed and had the inside ground.
Saratoga Race 4: #1A GOOD LUCK GUS
GOOD LUCK GUS’ performance off a December layoff was a solid one.
He broke the gate early under Luis Saez and had to be reloaded, and once underway he went four-to-three wide into the first turn. Frontrunner and eventual winner #2 BECKER’S GALAXY sped off down the backstretch and gave GOOD LUCK GUS a lot of work to do from the start of the far turn. Luis Saez kept GOOD LUCK GUS two-to-three wide around the final bend before tipping out four-wide for the stretch run.
GOOD LUCK GUS still had five lengths to make up turning for home but closed to finish just a neck behind in third. We’ll see where new trainer David Jacobson places GOOD LUCK GUS next; he could be very dangerous in a comparable spot.
Saratoga Race 10: #10 ELYSEA’S WORLD, #11 LIGHT IN PARIS
Chad Brown, who saddled both ELYSEA’S WORLD and LIGHT IN PARIS, was the victim of some bad luck in the De La Rose Stakes.
ELYSEA’S WORLD was content to lope along at the back of the pack, switching from the two-path to the rail from turn to turn. Joel Rosario attempted to find a lane to run through in the stretch but never really could. ELYSEA’S WORLD found some daylight in the six-path and began closing in earnest but it was far too late by then. However, she still managed to sneak into the superfecta in a blanket finish.
ELYSEA’S WORLD has stakes-level talent but seems to be crying out for more ground. A race like the Grade III Glens Falls at 1 3/8-miles on closing weekend might be perfect for her.
LIGHT IN PARIS saved ground most of the way under Manny Franco after going just a bit wide on the first turn. Unfortunately she was pinched back in the stretch after encountering some late traffic. The ‘no rally’ chart comment appears to be a bit harsh, and it just might drive her price up next time out.