2014 Hatoof Stakes Preview (Both Divisions)

Winner of the 1994 Beverly D. Stakes, Hatoof took a winning performance in suburban Chicago along with a runner-up showing in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf against males and used that to nail Eclipse down honors as that year’s Older Female Turf Champion.   Hatoof also won the G1 E. P. Taylor Stakes in Canada two years prior.  Over in Europe, Hatoof won major races like the Prix de Opera, a seminal race in France.

Hatoof winning the 1992 Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas. Video courtesy Youtube.

The Hatoof Stakes is for three-year-old fillies on the grass at about a mile and a sixteenth and serves as the local feeder to the G3 Pucker Up Stakes in September, that race itself a steppingstone to the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.  A feeder to the feeder, this race has a pot of $75,000.  And for the third straight year, this race was split into two divisions.

Prior winners of the Hatoof include future Modesty winners Romacaca (2009) and I’m Already Sexy (2013, run in divisions).

At publish time, the rail will set to the Zero setting, at the Lane 1, 10 feet inside position.  Selections are made for “turf only”.  Both divisions are picked and pondered below, and both races are on the undercard of the August 16 Arlington International Festival of Racing headlined by the Arlington Million.

Arlington International — Race 5 — Hatoof Stakes, Division One — About 1 1/16 miles on turf — post time 2:39pm CT

On the stretchout from three wins at five furlongs on the grass at Churchill and Indiana Downs comes MIZZEN MISS who gets a lot of things in her favor.  Ever since trainer Bernie Flint put her on the weeds she’s been spotless, earning a maiden graduation and rattling up through the N1X and N2X conditions, all at five furlongs.  While she is speed and has won her five furlong races wire-to-wire, she’s certainly bred for it, as MIZZEN MAST’s progeny tend to handle mile category races with no issue (as MIZZEN MAST himself won at nine furlongs).  Being out of a Grand Slam mare only aids the cause. She’ll have James Graham aboard, one of the best sod riders on the grounds.  She beat elders in the N2X at Indiana last time and now goes in an age-restricted race.  And she appears the only front runner in a race devoid of early speed.  ZUBI ZUBI ZU has two straight runner up finishes in the N2X condition that, like ZUBI ZUBI ZU, is against elders.  Perhaps going back to the sophomore ranks helps, but also helps that trainer Michael Stidham kept this filly here but shipped Stellaris (the Arlington Oaks runner up) out to the west coast.  I’m thinking he sees this Hatoof as a nice spot, and Stidham wins one of every four times.  He doesn’t employ Marquez that much, but the pair have fit frequently.  ZUBI ZUBI ZU gets a pace target in the horse to her immediate left, but she will be in the outermost post that could have her swing wide on the turns.  COLONEL JOAN, best known for being third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, only has a maiden win to her credit two back on the grass.  Stepped up into the G3 Arlington Oaks last time, she swung five wide and produced squat in the stretch.  However, Colonel John – the sire of the horse in focus – was best when not on synthetic (going five-wide notwithstanding) and getting off the polytrack may be the best thing.  Her best races have been on the lawn, and note that Joel Rosario, in town for the bigger races, takes the mount on her.


#9 MIZZEN MISS (5/1)

#10 ZUBI ZUBI ZU (9/2)


Longshot: #8 TEMPERS FLAIR (15/1) may only have a maiden win to her credit, but it only too her three starts to get the diploma.  She graduated last time in a maiden special weight at Ellis Park.  But TEMPERS FLAIR was given time off to mature from two to three, and it paid off last time.  Perhaps she can move forward again going third off the layoff and with only four races on the resume.  And that’s noteworthy considering her trainer is 22% wins in third-off-layoff situations.  And it’s the same trainer that shipped Little Mike to win a Million two years ago and Finnegans Wake to win a Million prep a month ago.

Arlington International — Race 11 — Hatoof Stakes, Division Two — About 1 1/16 miles on turf — post time 6:18pm CT

Whereas the first division of the Hatoof was devoid of speed, this one appears to have all the speed horses.  Going five wide on the first turn and four wide on the second on the synthetic at Arlington isn’t a recipe for success.  So let’s take MARIA MARIA’s last race and throw it out.  Cycle back to her pre-Arlington Oaks form, where she won a N2X allowance rallying from off the pace.  In the same zip code as Global View (who goes in the Secretariat) and Bobby’s Kitten (runner up in a recent grassy G2) at the start of the year, she’ll get the pace to attack and likely won’t get swung five wide into the party tents this time around.  She also gets a notable rider upgrade to Luis Saez. TOO COOL has a similar pace profile of rallying from the parking lot, but MARIA MARIA in these eyes has run in better races.  TOO COOL gets Sheldon Russell to pilot as he’s returned from injury, and yes you could have claimed her for fifty grand three back at Churchill Downs.  Flourishing since a trainer change in the Spring, she’s got a win and two more podium finishes since coming north to the Michelle Lovell barn.  A winner of a claimer three back at Churchill, she will get the pace targets to set up her rally and a cozy inside draw.  BATTLEFIELD ANGEL comes back to Arlington after a ship to Delaware Park and coming away with a victory in the $50K Christiana Stakes over their grass course.  While she likes to be close to the pace, she doesn’t need to be on the pace and demonstrated that in the Delaware race.  Two back she won a first-level allowance over the Arlington weeds with Florent Geroux aboard, and Geroux takes a return call.  Six of seven in the money lifetime in the career, the only time off the podium when beaten only three lengths with a trouble line in a key race, last year’s Arlington-Washington Lassie.


#4 MARIA MARIA (6/1)

#2 TOO COOL (8/1)


Longshot: Ever get those races that have a whole bunch of speed on paper, you think there’s a pace meltdown, and the first quarter is posted in :27 1/5 with no one wanting the lead?  This could happen with this group, and that makes the speed of the speed #6 LOVELY LYREE (10/1).  Some underrated connections involved, with trainer Michelle Boyce saddling this runner, herself a solid 20% turf trainer and the conditioner of thrice Arlington Sprint winner Saint Leon.  Although this is her first time in open company and in stakes company, she has exhausted her Illinois-bred conditions.  Twice a winner at two turns over the Arlington weeds, she won two back on yielding ground and deserves a hard look if the course turns up soft and the ground goes wet.  Rider Rosemary Homeister, Jr. can steer a price horse home as well as anyone on the circuit, and she has two wins and six money finishes in the last two months when working with Boyce.


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