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The 2021 meets at Saratoga and Del Mar officialy began this past weekend, and with fans allowed to attend for the first time in 2 years, both tracks enjoyed record-breaking Opening Day handles. The stars on the track were just as exciting and made for tough decisions. For the first time in years, we have a tie at the top, too!
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An exciting stretch-run throwdown in Saturday’s Haskell Stakes (G1) between Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun, and Midnight Bourbon was nearly marred by tragedy after Hot Rod Charlie came over on Midnight Bourbon, causing that horse to clip heels, stuimble, and dismount jockey Paco Lopez. Stewards held an inquiry before ruling to disqualify Hot Rod Charlie – who crossed the wire first by a nose – and place him last. While fans and pundits debate the decision, one thing was clear: the battle Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun put on in the stretch was too close to call for us to separate, so they share top honors this week.
What’s old was new again Saturday at Saratoga in the Diana Stakes (G1), when the Godolphin homebred Althiqa rallied late past her Charlie Appleby stablemate Summer Romance while making a laughingstock of the American-based female turfers. Last month, the same exact scenario played out at Belmont Park in the Just a Game Stakes (G1). At this point, these are clearly two of the top choices in this division as we take an early look ahead at the early November Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
Althiqa, Summer Romance Repeat Just a Game Finish in Diana
Saratoga’s Opening Day card on Thursday kicked things off with a bang when Golden Pal turned the Quick Call Stakes (G3) into an absolute laugher. Wesley Ward waited until July to bring back the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) champion, and the Uncle Mo colt looked more than ready to run. The year-end championships remain the ultimate goal, but Ward will have plenty of fun placing him in winnable spots until then.
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