Susan Cooney’s Carolina Shag recorded her best stakes performance to date July 24th, when the six-year-old Bop mare took third in the $200,000 Caress Stakes at Saratoga. She took the lead briefly in the upper stretch but was caught 70 yards from the wire and finished third. Miss Ella was 1 1/2 lengths the best. Carolina Shag’s previous stakes outings were both in New York — an 8th in the Intercontinental at Belmont in June, 2015 and a 9th in the Tenski at Saratoga in August, 2014. She has a trio of lifetime wins including one on June 17th this year at Laurel. Her lifetime bankroll now stands at $167,140. Cooney bred, owns and trains Carolina Shag, who is a West Virginia-bred).
Horses bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone got to the winner’s circle eight times during the middle part of July. Virginia-breds Well Blessed, Weekend, Swordfish, Holding Fast, Dapper Dan, Northern Eclipse, Titan Alexander and Start Winning all got their pictures taken. The run of success wasn’t isolated to one or two tracks — it came at seven different ovals around the country.
Well Blessed scored most recently at Delaware Park July 20th. The 4 year old daughter of Exchange Rate was best in a claiming field of ten, who vied one mile, 70 yards for $16,000. The victor crossed 3 3/4 lengths in front in 1:40.70. The Arnaud Delacour trainee has won two straight at Delaware and has bankrolled $22,470 this year.
Weekend captured a $25,000 maiden special weight race exclusively for Virginia-bred fillies and mares July 15th at Laurel. The 3 year old daughter of Henny Hughes was best in as field of seven (a writeup on this race appears on the vabred.org website separately).
Swordfish and Holding Back both connected at tracks outside of the Mid-Atlantic region and both earned their first career victories. The former is a 4 year old Summer Bird gelding who won by 4 1/2 at Prarie Meadows, and the latter is a 2 year old Hold Me Back colt who came on strong in the final furlong at Belterra Park to win by five. Swordfish is out of the Not For Love mare, Hawaiian Love, and Holding Fast is out of Humorlee by Distorted Humor.
Since switching over to steeplechase racing on a full time basis five starts ago, Dapper Dan has collected a pair of wins and thirds. The 5 year old gelding’s most recent win came at Parx July 11th in a 2 1/16th miles overnight handicap hurdle event for $30,000. The Neil Morris trainee authored a nearly identical trip to the one he penned at Great Meadow in a maiden special weight May 6th. Both were wire to wire efforts and both featured sizeable leads midway through that diminished. In the Parx race, he held on to win by two and at Great Meadow, he held on by a length. Dapper Dan, who is by Pleasantly Perfect out of Wardrobe by War Chant, has earned $55,500 in 2017 from three starts.
Wins by Northern Eclipse, Titan Alexander and Start Winning all resulted in a 25% owners bonus being doled out courtesy of the HBPA/VTA Mid Atlantic Incentive Program.
Northern Eclipse, who was coming off a fourth place finish in the Tyson Gilpin Stakes, won by 2 1/2 lengths in a $42,000 allowance race at Laurel. The 5 year old Northern Afleet mare is 2-for-4 this year with $47,625 in earnings. Seven-year-old Titan Alexander scored at Mountaineer Park in a $12,000 claimer while Start Winning connected at Charles Town in a $10,000 claimer. Both races, contested at 7 and 6 1/2 furlongs respectively, were decided by a neck. Titan Alexander collected his tenth career win from 29 starts while Start Winning earned her fifth win from 20 starts.
The respective winning owners — Toby Roth, Ernest Haynes and C and B Stables, each collected that 25% bonus on top of the horse’s purse winnings.