Lemon Drop Kid Scores Sweet Victory in Whitney
Lemon Drop Kid put to rest--at least for now--any doubts about who is the best handicap horse in the country.
Against a small but select field, the 4-year-old son of Kingmambo won the $750,000 Whitney Handicap on a rainy Sunday at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., making him three for three since adding blinkers and jockey Edgar Prado.
In the process, the 2-1 favorite also made some history. Owned by Jeanne Vance and Laddy Dance and trained by Scotty Schulhofer, Lemon Drop Kid became only the second horse to win the Belmont Stakes at Belmont and the Travers and Whitney at Saratoga. Easy Goer won all three races in 1989.
Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, Lemon Drop Kid ran past 6-1 shot Cat Thief early in the stretch to win by two lengths in 1:48 1/5 for the 1 1/8 miles on a track labeled good. The victory was his ninth in 21 starts and his third in five tries at Saratoga.
Behrens, who was a hard-luck loser to Victory Gallop in last year’s memorable Whitney, was a distant third in his final start at the track. The 2-1 second choice did have some trouble on the first turn when he clipped the heels of Golden Missile, but he still wasn’t going to finish any better than third.
Running Stag was fourth, then came Golden Missile, who entered having won the Pimlico Special and Stephen Foster Handicap in succession, and pacesetter David. Beaten 25 lengths by the winner, David’s performance could be seen as an indictment of the Hollywood Gold Cup. The New York-bred was third in that race, only 2 1/2 lengths behind upset winner Early Pioneer.
“This is the best dirt horse I’ve ridden,” said Prado after winning the Whitney for the first time. “I hope he runs this way the rest of the year and into the Breeders’ Cup.”
Showing a new dimension, Dixie Union, a 9-2 shot, rallied from off the pace, collaring 8-5 favorite Captain Steve near the wire under jockey Alex Solis to win the $1-million Haskell Invitational Handicap Sunday at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.
Perceived by many to be more effective around one turn, the 3-year-old Dixieland Band colt won for the sixth time in 10 starts for owners Herman Sarkowsky and the Diamond A Racing Corp. and trainer Richard Mandella. He completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50 and won by three-quarters of a length.
Captain Steve, who drew clear in the stretch after disposing of pacesetter Thistyranthasclass, saved the place by a head over 10-1 shot Milwaukee Brew. Belmont Stakes winner Commendable was eighth in the field of nine.
“He’s a very good horse,” said Mandella of the winner. “I couldn’t answer whether he’d go this far or not until he did it.
“We’re looking at the Travers [Aug. 26], but that depends on how he comes out of this. If this race sets him back, we won’t go, but if he’s OK, we’d love to go.”
Following Riviera’s win in the Wickerr Handicap on Friday, Uncharted Haven’s score in the San Clemente Handicap on Saturday and Hastenby’s victory in the Sandy Blue earlier in the day, trainer Bobby Frankel made it four consecutive stakes wins at Del Mar when 7-2 shot Skimming smoked his six rivals in the $250,000 San Diego Handicap on Sunday.
Stamping himself a contender for the $1-million Pacific Classic on Aug. 26, the 4-year-old son of Nureyev assumed the lead right from the start under jockey Garrett Gomez, set fast fractions (22 3/5, 45 4/5 and 1:09 3/5 for six furlongs) and drew away to win by eight lengths in 1:41 for the 1 1/16 miles.
Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Skimming gave Frankel his second consecutive San Diego win. Last year, Mazel Trick won by six lengths, then suffered a career-ending injury getting ready for the Pacific Classic.
Prime Timber passed a weary National Saint to be second and River Keen, the favorite, finished last.
U.S. fans won’t have an opportunity to see the best horse in the world in person later this year in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Dubai Millenium, who displayed his talent in two huge wins this year in the Dubai World Cup and Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot in England, has been retired after breaking his right hind leg in a workout Saturday at Newmarket.
Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Dubai Millenium finished his career with nine wins in 10 starts.
Trainer Neil Drysdale, former jockey Julie Krone and thoroughbreds A.P. Indy, Winning Colors and Needles will be inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in ceremonies today at Saratoga Springs. . . . Dixie Union’s win in the Haskell Invitational wasn’t the only victory on the card for Mandella and Solis on Sunday at Monmouth Park. A race earlier, the trainer and jockey teamed to win the $100,000 Eatontown Stakes with Reciclada. . . . The $75,000 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit at Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, Minn., was won by Teddy Boy, a 5-year-old claimed by training Mike Goodin for $12,500 May 21 for owner David Heller.