The day after the Belmont

Some random leftover notes the day after an afternoon in the Hollywood Park press box:

* Midships is likely headed to the Arlington Million on Aug. 8 at Arlington Park near Chicago for his next race. The 4-year-old Mizzen Mast colt is dangerous in most any race he runs because he’s got the type of tactical speed where he can go gate to wire if the pace is slow or he can lay just off a quicker pace and then save his best running for the stretch, like he did in Saturday’s Whittingham Handicap. Bobby Frankel’s assistant, Humberto Ascanio, said in the winner’s circle that Frankel always thought Midships was going to be a good horse after he finished third in his U.S. debut last November at Hollywood Park in the Grade I Hollywood Derby. Ascanio also said Frankel scratched Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Champs Elysees from Saturday’s Grade I Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park because the turf was too soft.

* It’s going to be a battle all the way to the end for the Hollypark riding title. Through Saturday’s races, Joel Rosario leads Rafael Bejarano, 42-41, as the former tries to deprive Bejarano of a record seventh consecutive Southland jockey title since Hollypark began its autumn meet in 1981. Victor Espinoza is quietly having a strong meet, entering today’s nine-race card tied for third with Joe Talamo at 22 victories apiece. Tyler Baze is fifth with 19 wins. After winning the jockey title with 73 victories in 2007, Michael Baze has fallen on some hard times. He’s won only six times this meet with 106 mounts.

* Doug O’Neill, no stranger to training titles in Southern California, is making a mockery of the Hollypark standings. He’s 10 up, 21-11, over second-place John Sadler after Saturday’s racing. The top win percentage from a trainer with at least 10 starters? Howard Zucker, who has won 5 of 12 races for a 42 percent success rate. Unbelievable that Bobby Frankel had a 0 for 20 streak going before winning with Midships. Of course, it seems Frankel sends a lot of his top horses elsewhere when Santa Anita is not racing. If you remember, the Hall of Fame trainer blanked during last summer’s Del Mar meet.

* Funny how many of the same people who praised Calvin Borel for his rail-skimming ride aboard Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby are now claiming that the Cajun jockey moved too soon on the gelding in the Belmont. Looked to me like he just didn’t want any of the 1 1/2-mile distance, like most of the 3-year-olds in the race. Dunkirk, Mine That Bird and my selection — Charitable Man — all needed oxygen masks at the finish while Summer Bird breezed by them all in the stretch. Summer Bird was much the best in the race. Nobody was going to beat that colt on Saturday. Now there are two trainers — Chip Woolley and Tim Ice — who were unknown to 99.9 percent of America before their Triple Crown victories but have shown to be very capable horsemen.

* Hard to imagine that three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher has won only one Triple Crown race, and none with a colt. His lone triumph came in the 2007 Belmont with Rags to Riches. But Pletcher is too good a trainer and has too many top-notch owners that his fortunes have to change in the near future. Dunkirk is a very talented colt who is still very lightly raced. He’ll get a short breather now and be ready to go for the Haskell or Travers. He could be a very dangerous horse come Breeders’ Cup time when he’s got some more racing under him.

* I’m interested to see how Evita Argentina runs in today’s Hollywood Oaks. She really impressed me when she beat the boys in the Grade II San Vicente at Santa Anita on Feb. 16, closing like a locomotive in the stretch that day to win by a length under Garrett Gomez. But she followed up that effort with a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Grade II Beaumont against other 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland on April 8. She’s 4 of 8 lifetime but has gone today’s 1 1/16-mile distance only once — a ninth-place showing in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. She might be just a late-closing sprinter, but seeeing as though she’s by Candy Ride, who won the 2003 Pacific Classic, trainer John Sadler wants to make sure before he gives up on her in two-turn races.

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