Horses bred in the mid-Atlantic region enjoyed a productive holiday weekend in graded stakes — although those among the leaders of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll did not fare so well.
Two horses among the leaders of the Top Midlantic-bred ran in graded events at Belmont Park on Saturday without much impact. But two other Midlantic-breds registered victories in graded events, which may shake up the next poll.
Granny’s Kitten, the fifth-ranked three-year-old in the poll, ran in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby, a 1 1/4 mile turf test. The Pennsylvania-bred son of Kitten’s Joy, who’d run third in the Grade 3 Penn Mile in May, raced within striking distance in third for a mile but gradually faded from the scene thereafter. Sent off at 8.60-1, he wound up eighth of nine, beaten more than eight lengths by winner Force the Pass, who also was the winner of the Penn Mile. Granny’s Kitten, bred and owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, has two wins and a third from four starts and has earned $149,870.
A couple of races later, in the $400,000 Grade 3 Belmont Sprint Championship, New Jersey-bred Green Gratto, fifth among older horses in the poll, chased 0.35-1 favorite Private Zone to no avail and ended up fourth of five. A son of Here’s Zealous, bred by Kaz Hill Farm and owned by Gaston and Anthony Grant and Basil Greene, Green Gratto was second for the first half-mile in the seven furlong test. But Private Zone, comfortably in command throughout, drew off while Green Gratto faltered, eventually beaten by more than 10. Twice placed in graded stakes, Green Gratto has won four of 29 career starts and earned $376,114.
On Sunday, the picture was much rosier for horses bred in the region, who traveled north and south to make their marks in a pair of Grade 2 events.
Down at Gulfstream Park, Pennsylvania-bred Favorite Tale blitzed the field in the $250,000 Smile Sprint Stakes, posting a front-running, 4 1/4 length score and stopping the clock in a speedy 1:08.85 for six furlongs. In the process, he thrashed Work All Week, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner who was sent off at 4-5. The four-year-old son of Tale of the Cat was bred by Paul Conaway and is owned by PJG Stable. He’s won six of 14 career starts, earning $551,626 along the way, and now has won two graded events.
Meanwhile, at Toronto’s Woodbine, a Virginia-bred, Go Blue Or Go Home, posted a game neck score to win the Grade 2 Highlander. He paid backers the tidy sum of $36.60 to win. The son of Bluegrass Cat posted his first win in two years — since winning this same event in 2013. Bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm & Winstar Farm LLC, Go Blue Or Go Home is owned by Jim and Susan Hill. The gelding has won six of 19 starts and earned $480,092.