Monday’s What Happened – Feb. 9

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The San Antonio lived up to the hype just as the Super Bowl lived up to its overblown billing. If the old adage about things happening in threes – although maybe that’s usually designated for bad things, oh well – then what’s next? The guess is something other than the commercially driven holiday that is Valentine’s Day.

Wow, what a weekend.

Shared Belief and California Chrome delivered. Constitution racked up another Grade 1 at his favorite track. Dortmund showed fight, again, to further solidify his classics credentials. And there were plenty of other standout performances by the time the first full weekend of February wrapped up under another blanket of snow in the Northeast.

How did we fare in last week’s Saturday Special? For starters we fired off more than 1,200 words on races spanning the globe, so to avoid getting bogged down and exhausting too much of your morning we’ll recap the biggest highlights. Here goes.

We wrote: Newbury. Race 3. 9:25. The Betfair Denman Chase. Tune in early to Newbury as it offers good racing all day. The Denman Chase pits the likes of Harry Topper, off for 77 days, against Unioniste, Houblon Des Obeaux, Taquin Du Seuil and Coneygree. Richard Johnson, who missed valuable rides over Christmas when suspended, picks up the cherry on Coneygree, whose regular rider is suspended.

What happened? Richard Johnson indeed picked up the cherry as Coneygree jumped brilliantly and led start to finish en route to a 7-length victory. On to Cheltenham with the winner, the question for trainer Mark Bradstock is which race. The best in the world in the Gold Cup or novices in the RSA Chase. 

We wrote: Newbury. Race 4. 10:00.The Game Spirit Chase. Welcome back, champ. The great Sire De Grugy returns for the first time in 287 days. His form reads like telephone poles down a highway, 11111, including the Queen Mother. This won’t be easy as he takes on Uxizandre, Mr Mole and Upsilon Bleu.

What happened? Sire De Grugy looked rusty in his comeback, struggled at the first fence and nearly dropped Jamie Moore at the second, eventually doing just that. His connections remained bullish going forward, not worrying that he’ll go to Cheltenham with a “UR” on his form as opposed to another “1.” Mr Mole won again, providing Tony McCoy with win number 200 for the season. The 19-time champ (soon to be 20) announced his retirement – at the end of the season. Goodbye legend.

We wrote: Newbury. Race 6. 11:10. Want short fields? You’ve got it. Kings Palace has scared everyone away, he takes on just two in the novice chase.

What happened? A few anxious moments against just one opponent in Vivaldi Collonges, Kings Palace got it done as the 2-13 favorite. The novice tried to take an open ditch with him, other than, it was clear sailing. Jockey Tom Scudamore said he learned something. He better. 

We wrote: Gulfstream Park. Race 3. 12:59 p.m. It’s Not Me and Souper Colossal make their turf debuts in the Texas Glitter. Souper Colossal was undefeated before traveling to California for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Trainer Eddie Plesa has regrouped since.

What happened? Souper Colossal liked the turf just fine, winning by 1 ½ lengths at even-money. It’s Not Me didn’t fare as well, getting bumped at the start before finishing seventh.

We wrote: Aqueduct. Race 3. 1:43.  Grade 3 Toboggan offers a rematch for Salutos Amigos, Mewannarose and Dads Caps. They finished in that order in the Gravesend in December (watch it below). Rudy Rodriguez adds blinkers to Dads Caps, who finished second in this race last year.

What happened? Salutos Amigos won the rematch by 1 3/4 lengths over Dads Caps. The Salute the Sarge gelding went in a quick 1:09.53.

We wrote: Gulfstream. Race 7. 2:58. Maidens try the turf. Tapkee looked good at Saratoga last summer, he draws the outside for Pletcher and Velazquez.

What happened? Tapkee looked good again, but was second best to the Buff Bradley Kitten’s Joy firster Divisidero, who lit up the board at 25-1.

Oaklawn Park. Race 5. 4:08. How good is Scuba? Son of Tapit ran four times on the turf for Bill Mott before switching to Tony Dutrow who promptly won a dirt allowance at Laurel Park. He returns in an allowance race.

What happened? Russellin, 4-year-old son of Old Fashioned trained by Chris Hartman, made it look easy with 6-length win over Quiet Man. Scuba made some gains in the stretch but fell a head short of the runner-up.

We wrote: Aqueduct. Race 8. 4:13. The Withers. Maiden winners – Classy Class, Far From Over, March, Tencendur, Unrivaled, General Bellamy – try to become stakes winners. El Kabeir tries to become a three-time stakes winner. The Jerome winner breaks from the outside rail and will certainly hustle under C.C. Lopez.

What happened: Far From Over, one of the maiden winners mentioned, upset the apple cart for El Kabeir. Son of Blame (sorry Zenyatta fans, he’s going to be as awesome in the breeding shed as he was on the track) overcame terrible start to wear down the favorite in the stretch for … guess who? Todd Pletcher.

We wrote: Gulfstream. Race 10. 4:28. The Suwannee River. Chad Brown adds blinkers to Ashland winner Rosalind, who makes her first start since leaving Ken McPeek’s barn. Sandiva returns after taking the Tropical Park Oaks in December. Deep race.

What happened? The blinkers helped Rosalind, but she wasn’t good enough to top Sandiva. It was indeed deep, with first five separated by 2 3/4 lengths.

We wrote: Santa Anita Park. Race 3. 4:30. Amazing what $1.7 million can buy. Cyrus Alexander tries to break his maiden in his fifth start. Purchased at Keeneland September 2013, he’s hit the board in all four tries for Jerry Hollendorfer, who adds blinkers to half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.

What happened? The money finally looked well spent and Cyrus Alexander got Jerry Hollendorfer’s big day off to a productive start with 3 3/4-length victory as the favorite.

We wrote: Gulfstream. Race 11. 4:58. Milers clash in the Fred Hooper Stakes. John Servis travels with Adirondack King, Bill Mott adds Lasix to Mosler, Race Day seeks his fourth straight and Ulanbator continues his climb.

What happened? Who’s better than Marcus Vitali? Not long after Valid scored mild upset victory he held up television interview to thank his help.

We wrote: Gulfstream. Race 12. 5:28. Wow, this is some card. Mshawish eyes third win in a row in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Wonder if Imagining will look for Main Sequence in the paddock? Rest assured, Imagining, 2014’s male turf champion isn’t here. Lilli Kurtinecz tries to continue the living-the-dream with Manchurian High.

What happened? Todd Pletcher. Mshawish. We’ve seen this show before. Imagining didn’t look like the same Imagining as last summer and fall, finishing eighth of nine.

We wrote: Santa Anita. Race 5. 5:30. Three-year-olds continue the climb in the Robert B. Lewis. Is Dortmund a freak? So far. He clashes again with Firing Line, who finished a head behind him in the Los Alamitos Futurity. Check out this ad for Dortmund from Fasig-Tipton.

What happened? Talk about a two-horse race. Dortmund and Firing Line seriously separated from the field in the stretch and were a head apart at the finish. Dortmund got the better down on the inside. Not sure what to do with a race where it was 21 1/2 lengths back to the third-place finisher.

We wrote: Oaklawn. Race 8. 5:38. Wow, what a claim. W. T. Howard nabbed Ivan Fallunovalot for $25,000 last March. He’s won four of five since and seeks a stakes win in the King Cotton.

What happened? The beat goes on. Ivan Fallunovalot won again, taking the King Cotton by 2 3/4 professional lengths. The Count Fleet could be next.

We wrote: Sunland Park. Race 9. 5:44. The Diario Handicap. Chip Woolley is still going strong, the Derby-winning trainer sends out Let Her Dance. Check out Cassy Sue, she’s won eight in a row since dropping to the $5,000 ranks in April. Her trainer, Justin Evans, hit at 27 percent last year. He entered three here.

What happened? Cassy Sue scratched, Chip Wooley finished fourth of six with Let Her Dance and Speightstown filly Bright Town romped by 3 lengths.

We wrote: Gulfstream. Race 13. 5:58. The Donn Handicap doesn’t disappoint. Lea returns after winning the Hal’s Hope in January, Sloane Avenue travels from England, Pletcher sends out Constitution, Commissioner and Protonico.

What happened? If the Breeders’ Cup was at Gulfstream this fall it’s a safe bet who the favorite would be. Constitution, who defeated Lea by three-quarters gate-to-wire, ran his record to 4-for-4 in South Florida. He’s 0-for-2 elsewhere, but equally safe bet that son of Tapit will be effective when Pletcher takes him on the road later this year. The first two were well clear of the rest. Strong race.

We wrote: Oaklawn. Race 9. 6:09. Promising maidens. Take note and let us know who you like.

What happened? The finale was scrapped thanks to an equipment malfunction. According to Oaklawn, “an electrical short caused a malfunction with one starting gate and a chain that controls the steering mechanism of the second starting gate broke.” Sorry, no notes.

We wrote: Golden Gate Fields. Race 6. 6:15. The California Oaks. Three-time winner Niassa takes on one-time winner Glory. Niassa is local, with two wins at Golden Gate while Glory ships north for Jerry Hollendorfer and Fox Hill Farm.

What happened? Hollendorfer didn’t win everything as his Glory and Star Via Strada finished second and third behind Doug O’Neil’s Sharla Rae.

We wrote: Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:30. Finnegans Wake goes for his third straight in the San Marcos. Graham Motion is scratching Quadrivium. Dynamic race.

What happened? Finnegans Wake got his third straight, winning by a length in rough and tumble affair.

We wrote: Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. The race of the day. California Chrome, Shared Belief and Hoppertunity in the San Antonio. Stop and watch. Simply, stop what you’re doing and watch good horses run in a big race, in February no less.

What happened? Definitely the race of the day, of the week, of the month, of the year. It’s only February, but the way Shared Belief ran could mean a long year for others in the handicap division. California Chrome lost nothing in defeat. Jerry Hollendorfer hinted last week that Shared Belief could run outside California later this year. If and when he does that – and if he wins – then the plaudits can go from good to great.

We wrote: Turfway Park. Race 8. 9:38. Stakes performers Cozy Kitten, Politicallycorrect, Set The Sail, Kalamos, Mac The Man, In My Book and Joha compete for a $30,500 allowance pot.

What happened? Mac The Man led gate-to-wire, winning in just under 1:40. Is it spring yet?

We wrote: Sam Houston Race Park. Race 9. 10:56. Still with us? Still more to come. Thirteen-time winner Queenland takes on one-time winner Proper’n Storme and 15-time winner Solar Charge in the Bucharest.

What happened? The day wrapped for us at 11:10 (really guys, 14 minutes late from approximate post?) and Meme Jo upset 9/10 favorite Solar Charge.