Trip Notes with Robert Criscola: Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trip Notes 5/15/18

Turf racing is front-and-center in this week’s trips column. We’ll take a look at two races from Thursday at Belmont before segueing to Churchill.
Belmont Race 4: #5 ELENZEE
ELENZEE showed an unusual amount of early zip in this one, setting a hot pace and nearly holding on.
Javier Castellano must have been thrilled to see the inside available after just a few strides and decided to take the initiative aboard ELENZEE. #11 RIVER KNIGHT was an obvious candidate to press the pace, but #7 CALLANT was not expected to rush up and join the fray. That helped ensure fast early fractions (22.37, 44.82) for a seven-furlong turf heat.
ELENZEE dispatched those pace rivals rather easily (they both ran out of the money) but #10 OUTRAGEOUS BET closed quickly and put ELENZEE to work. ELENZEE was up to that task but was then out of ammunition for a battle with the well-ridden #2 CATCH A CAB. More conservative tactics might serve ELENZEE better next time out.
Belmont Race 6: #3 SPRING DRAMA, #4 GABRIELLA
SPRING DRAMA came away from the gate in a tangle then steadied slightly and dropped toward the back early on under Joel Rosario. The pace was stagnant (25.14, 49.94, 1:14.53), and SPRING DRAMA was as far as seven lengths behind. She was forced three-to-four wide on the far turn and appeared to be struggling but she closed with determination in deep stretch to just miss the win.
GABRIELLA was tough to handle for John Velazquez down the backstretch. She stayed at the rail behind what turned out to be dull cover until the field swung for home. GABRIELLA was unable to find a path in the stretch and even steadied slightly near the eighth pole. She fought in vain to gain ground late in close quarters and ran off the board. Perhaps the third time will be the charm for her, because luck was certainly not on her side on Thursday.
Churchill Race 7: #5 STORM THE HILL
STORM THE HILL got the class relief she needed in this one but not the trip.
Ricardo Santana Jr. got STORM THE HILL over to the rail in short order but had to tap on the brakes throughout behind a dawdling tempo (24.96, 48.74, 1:12.85). She saved ground on the far turn but had nowhere to go in the stretch, attempting to weave as far as four paths off the rail in the lane.
By the time she shook free, STORM THE HILL was out of energy. Her hindered trip played a big part in that, but perhaps she needs a slight cutback in distance. Keep an eye out for her going forward. 

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