HOL Turf Cup (Grade 2- $200.000 Purse)
DMR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Half on the Turf
November 24, 2017
In his last start, there was a lot of chatter centered around Taniwha. Because of a blistering and unsustainable pace set in the Grade 1 Hirsch Turf Classic by Chrystal Pip, Taniwha found himself 19 lengths out of it after six furlongs. His close was admirable, but he was beaten at the start. Former trainer Yahudi Stables was not a fan of the pace, and as of right now anyway, it is the last race that stable has been in. Aml Racing acquired him a week later for $250.000 in private sales and prepared him for the race. Even though the pace was no where near like what it was in the Hirsch, even with Chrystal Pip also in the race, Taniwha kept the distance back reasonable this time. This is why I never faulted the pace for Taniwha’s Hirsch. He was too far back there, regardless. For the HOL Turf Cup, it was more reasonable, and the result a lot better, as he picks up the win. Aml Racing wins the race for the second time, having also done so in 2008 with Sky Rocket. The winning trainer was Mario Gutierrez, his first such win. Congratulations to them! The time of the victory was 2:24.96, the third fastest in stake history. Let’s take a look!
(½ Mile- :48.22)- A group of four break alertly from the starting gate, and the initial leader would be Max Million, from Maxmillion Farm, as he would outrun both Bayou Quartier (Invicta Racing Llc) and Chrystal Pip (Mb Stables). Sweet Son (Mb Stables) was there too, but would quickly drop to a position just off the lead. As the field moved around the turn, Max Million also backed off, and left Chrystal Pip to take over the lead with Bayou Quartier staying to his outside. This was not deja vu though, as the pace was a second and a half slower then the times Chrystal Pip was running early in the Hirsch Turf Classic. Behind the front four, after half a mile, the three from the innermost posts were still running side by side, five lengths back: General White (Eastern Equine), Taniwha (Aml Racing), and My Plucky (Hambletonian Stable). The fact that Taniwha was right here made a world of a difference between this and the Hirsch, as he was still in the middle of the field. Pink Devil (Our Athletes) ran eighth, ahead of the three who had absolutely no interest in running early: Mad Hatter (Paradise Stable), Controlled Power (Spankys Barn), and No Glaring At Me (Black N Gold Stable).
(Six Furlongs- 1:12.30)- Not surprisingly, we don’t see much change in the running order as the field moves down the stretch and into the second turn for this race. The main difference is that top three are extending their lead. Chrystal Pip is still out in front, now by a length, but still keeping it far more reasonable then he did in the Hirsch. Bayou Quartier and Max Million keep him in close pursuit, then it is a gap of three lengths to Sweet Son, who has now been caught by My Plucky. Taniwha keeps his distance to the front as six lengths, as General White matches his stride to the inside. Further back, those with closing intentions are still in no hurry to make their bid.
(Ten Furlongs- 2:00.44)- Things get very interesting on the backstretch, and as the field moves into the turn. It’s still Max Million and Chrystal Pip up on the front end, though a change for the lead does now see the Maxmillion Farm namesake take over the race lead. Their front that had been running with them, Bayou Quartier, got leg weary and completely bowed out of it. While all this was going on, we began to see some movers from behind them, and it was Taniwha making the biggest one of them all. When he pulled out to go three wide late in the backstretch, I could not help but be excited to see him making this run at this juncture of the race, and you knew those in front of them would be in trouble. He was fourth now, and less then three lengths from the lead. Even further back, Mad Hatter was also full of run from the back to move up into the fifth position, a head in front of General White. My Plucky was lacking a response at this point and Sweet Son was calling it a day. Controlled Power, Pink Devil, and No Glaring At Me were all still looking for their lane options. No Glaring At Me had the wide route available if he wanted it.
(Finish- 2:24.96)- Taniwha keeps on coming, digging in at the top of stretch to prevail over Max Million to get the win, and it was not easy. Max Million was also good in the stretch, and put away Chrystal Pip with relative ease. As he was still in full stride, it was going to take a special effort in order to get him. Taniwha is a great stretch horse, and this time as he was not so far out of the game early, he was able to get by Mac Million just in time. Chrystal Pip was laboring late in the stretch, but holds on to third over Mad Hatter, who was coming on well from the outside. General White’s steady race made his breeder happy as he finishes fifth, ahead of No Glaring At Me who did run well on the far outside to get sixth. Third through sixth were separated by less then a length. Pink Devil is a nose ahead of My Plucky for seventh, and they were also close by. Controlled Power was ninth and never a factor. Then, it’s way back Bayou Quartier and Sweet Son, who at least kept each other company to the finish.
About The Winner- Taniwha, trained by Aml Racing, and ridden to victory by Mario Gutierrez, is a three year old by Monarch (by Pink Panther), and out of Nagasaki Girl. He was bred in New York by Yahudi Stables as a yearling and acquired by Aml Racing in private sales on October 7th for $250.000. This was their first race together. Congratulations to the connections. For Taniwha, the win is his third in nine career starts, and its his second graded win. His career earnings are now $405.860.
Time: :481 1:121 2:002 2:244
$2 Mutuel Prices:
$1 Exacta: 2 – 6 Paid 32.80
$1 Trifecta: 2 – 6 – 5 Paid 106.00
Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES