The BEL – Grade I
1 1/2 Mile Dirt Stake Purse $1,500.000 Open 3 Year Olds.
Well this race was without a doubt the biggest in HRP history and for once we weren’t let down with the first four separated by a length and the result in doubt right up to the last half furlong. It was a great battle but a battle in the end that was just a battle too many for Howl To The Hound, arguably the best three year old we have ever seen at HRP. For a moment as they entered the straight and the triple crown seeker took the lead we all dared to dream, i swear i heard the shouts and howls echoing across the Pacific but as the whips started cracking the last 100 yards was just too much for Howl To The Hound, even with his huge heart.
There were brilliant efforts, there were disappointing efforts, there were perplexing efforts and surprising ones but this race that promised so much brought everything to the table and produced a race to match the hype.
For me the biggest thing about this race was the very sedate pace they ran, nearly 50 seconds for the first half and 1.14 for 6 furlongs was way outside the Preakness times and made it very unlikely that anything outside the top half of the field was going to make any ground late. So it was left to the fast starters to fight it out and whilst the back markers will all have excuses it did set up for a stirring finish.
Here is how each horse ran:
1ST WAR CHANT
Trained by Aer Stables
Started smartly to find the stalking group early from his perfect draw. Never rushed but just sat sweetly behind the leaders with cover and let things unfold around him. As they turned for home things started to tighten for him and as Howl To The Hound found a perfect gap one off he was a little blocked behind the leading group and his rider began to start the search for a gap. Still going well with a ton of horse under him at the 3 furlong pole the jockey started to search with a little more urgency and as they hit the two furlong pole he was moving wide. With a furlong to run the first two were having a huge battle but War Chant now had free air and was taking ground with each stride. Finally well inside the final furlong War Chant started to assert and pulled away from two tiring horses to win by three quarters of a length.
War Chant was bred by Calia Stable in NY and is by the Mb Stables stallion Impactful, a son of Commanding which added its own irony to the result.
He was bought pre-race for $65 and has quickly become a household name in only his seventh start in taking down HRP’s first ever Triple Crown attempt.
It should be remembered that this horse had only ever won a maiden before today and had been second in The Southwest, The Rebel and the Preakness in his short career, his last three starts being from really tough draws. Make no doubt this is a worthy winner and it is great that he is still in tact in the wedding tackle department. There is more to come from him and after this win if he can get a decent mid season break in he will be among the favorites for the BC Classic in November.
Congratulation to Aer Stables and to the breeder Calia Stables.
2ND HOWL TO THE HOUND
Trained by Mb Stables
Once again this great horse made the perfect getaway and had the perfect trip. It was great that there was never an excuse for his effort because a bad start or a block would have left us all feeling deflated before they even got to the stretch. As it was everything went to plan and as they turned for home a perfect gap opened up for him one off the rail. I think the whole HRP community cheered as he found the front with 2 furlongs to run and i think we all expected him to explode like he did in the Preakness and blow them away. Sadly though the three huge efforts or the last furlong found him out and after beating off the challenge of Princess Jasmine he just had nothing left in that huge heart to see off the final challenger.
He lost nothing in defeat and although he lost his unbeaten record nobody can ever say he didn’t give his all.
Howl To The Hound is by Marry Me Mandy and bred by Jive Inc in NM. He was bought for $27.06 un-raced at auction and with the first two both being bought at auction i would imagine two year old prices will be strong in the next week or so at the upcoming sales.
3RD SPORTS PAGE
Trained by John Henry
This was a much better run than he will get credit for because all eyes were on the first two and the filly as they fought down the stretch. But whilst those three all had good starts and were able to sit on a slow pace this gelding had a poor start and was back in the final groups in the early stages. The key to his effort was that he managed to find the inside pretty quickly and then was pushed into midfield early on rather than toiling out the back with some of the others. He started to look dangerous with about 6 furlongs to run and was moving up almost unnoticed as all eyes were on the front end and Howl To The Hound. As they turned for home Sprots Page was getting a dynamic ride moving around to find space and making stealthy ground. Three furlongs out he had moved up the rail and was just behind the leaders and by the furlong pole was only a length and a half off and closing. With a half furlong left he never stopped trying getting past the filly in the final strides and taking ground off howl To The Hound with every stride.
A gelded son of Charley Farley this was a much better effort than when he ran in the KYD and he looked a lot more like the horse that was second in last years BC Juvenile. Bred by Greeko Holdem in Fla he looked like a really good buy today even at $700 and i think there will be far more to come from him over these longer trips.
4TH PRINCESS JASMINE
Trained by Mo Mentum Farm
This was such a huge effort by the filly that it seems almost a shame that she ended up with the smallest paycheck. Drawn wide she covered yards more than the first three and was only beaten a length after never finding any cover and being hung out off the track for all of the race. After she settled into the stalk but was stuck wide i just kept waiting for her to throw in the towel but as they raced round the home turn she was the one that looked most likely to beat Howl To The Hound and was one of a very small and elite club that has managed to head the great horse with a furlong to run. As they hit the stretch we were treated to such a great battle for a furlong and a half where first Princess jasmine inched back and ahead of Howl To The Hound and then the gelding fought back to get his nose in front. In the end she lost nothing in defeat but her wide trip was just too much and she started really getting tired in the last half furlong. This effort makes her the top filly in the game at the moment and it will be intriguing if she gets to race Naples in a filly’s race to decide who the Queen of HRP will be this year.
Bred by Aer Stables in Pa she was bought for $750 after qualifying for the KYD and after a huge disappointment in the Derby ran a much better race in the Preakness. Her best run of the three TC races however was today where she was much closer to the pace rather than getting back. By Brutal who sired last years winner she is out of a Pinkman mare and whatever happens down the line will be a valuable broodmare.
5th Breath Of The Wild:
Ran a huge race after being wide throughout and will have improved his stud value with this effort.
Ran his race and lost nothing in defeat. Pushed up early he was prominent throughout but faded from the home turn. He may not end up being a Classic horse but i feel the Dirt Mile may well fall under his radar.
7th Dutty John Crow
Went onto the speed from the gate and for a long way looked like he may end up in the top four. As they turned for home Dutty John Crow who had let the wide horse go by him reasserted along the rail and held the front but by the 3 furlong pole his lead looked to be on borrowed time as Howl To The hound began to growl alongside him. He faded down the stretch but should still be very proud of his effort and would’ve given his trainer a great thrill for a long way.
Well this horse will certainly be acquainted with a lot of parts of race tracks that others aren’t as he once again raced wide for much of the race. He didn’t get the start he got in the KYD so really never got into things and the slow pace and more restrained ride certainly didn’t help his cause. He did start to make ground around halfway but never really got into the race in the end.
His fate was sealed form the gate as he was selected to be in the group that had the new bad start that the race engine seemingly hands out randomly. To be fair it is not the first time he has had this problem and as a deep closer on this new engine he will always struggle when the pace is as sedate as it was today. He made ground at the end and one feels if the trainer can find a way to get him out of the gate quicker he may just develop into a decent three year old.
10th Sacred Order
He broke into group three so wasn’t completely out of it but he never really got into the race after trying to make a move around half way.
11th Shalangar B B
He started slowly and was taken so far back that for much of the race he didn’t really seem to be in the same race. Three lengths last after three furlongs he was pretty much forgotten until he made some ground late. I have rarely seen a horse run such a slow half mile so something went wrong here whether it was a bad instruction or just bad luck we cannot say.
It looked like Aer positioned his three horses to cover any eventuality and this one got the thin end of the stick by being the one to run off the pace. Starting slowly he was in the back group which is a kiss of death in most races and so it proved today as he stood no chance with a 49 and 3 opening half.
She really got the thin end of the wedge here being wide throughout and never seeing cover. It is hard enough for a filly anyway in all sex races but she was never given a chance being in the trailing group out of the gate and never finding any sort of position to run a race from. This was not the true Naples and i hope she gets another chance to prove herself.
14th Baller alert
Didn’t get the worst start but it may have well have been. To be honest he ran a similar race to the one he did in the Preakness and i feel his trainer may now go away and start again with this one for an Autumn campaign.
15th Darth Charley
Made a terrible start which was effectively the end of his race but to his credit did manage to put himself in the race and at least gave his trainer a run for their money. Rushing round the field from the back to lead at the half mile pole. It was a long searching run and he was always going to face payback which occurred pretty quickly and he disappeared as fast as he arrived.
16th Added Value
Lost the lottery and was picked to be among the slow starters so it was always going to be tough from there. He did get to the rail and made a little ground at one point where i thought he would come into it but the effort was short lived and he faded away.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this great race, it wasn’t to be this time but Howl To the Hound and Mb stables showed that it can be done and after Five Fives and now this one it is surely only a matter of time.