By Gene Kershner
We put the 154th Queen's Plate in the books on Sunday, and have a real Canadian Triple Crown threat on our hands with Midnight Aria. The News spoke with trainer Nick Gonzalez on Thursday who told us that he came out of the race great and he's been eating well. All systems are go for the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown at beautiful Fort Erie Racetrack on July 30. We'll keep an eye out on who will challenge the son of Midnight Lute as we turn to the dirt surface at the border oval.
Here's some thoughts on what's been going on as we approach the start of summer racing…
- Saratoga opens a week from today and we'll be making our annual pilgrimage to the Spa for the opening weekend. The first two days will feature the fillies with the Schuylerville for 2-year- olds on Friday and the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks (CCAO) on Saturday for the 3-year-olds.
- The CCAO will likely feature Princess of Sylmar who was last seen upsetting the field in the Kentucky Oaks at 37-1. She was the benefactor of the perfect pace scenario and picked up the pieces late in the Oaks, so there may be some value to play against her next Saturday as the possibility of the same pace meltdown is unlikely.
- We'll keep an eye out on who Mark Casse sends down to the Fort for the Prince of Wales (POW). In an interview with him last week for Queensplate.com he told The News that he would probably run Uncaptured in the Haskell, a race his sire Lion Heart won, instead of the POW. Look for Dynamic Sky to come down from Toronto and compete against Midnight Aria, who will likely see a different pace scenario then he did in the Plate where he got away with six furlongs in 1:13 and change.
- This weekend will be a turf handicapper's dream as the two biggest races on the weekend are the American Derby on the grass at Arlington as a prep race for the Arlington Million next month and the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs a perennial big race in the turf division.
- I was coerced into going to the Train concert this weekend at Darien Lake. I've only heard of them since they played in the infield during the 2011 Preakness. I've been assured of a good time.
- Speaking of concerts, Fort Erie has done a great job promoting Tuesday night twilight cards with their Tiki Bar and post-races concert series. They are anticipating a big crowd on Prince of Wales day and should generate some decent handle during the dark day at Saratoga and not having much going on nationally. I think it's a decent gamble.
- It's too bad the Haskell isn't two weeks earlier. I think running it three weeks before the Travers it compromises having some of the better horses in the 3-year-old division face off after the Triple Crown season. Running it five weeks after the Belmont and five weeks before the Travers would make perfect sense.
- We had some fun with Twitter over at EquiSpace earlier this week, feel free to check it out.
- I recently took a peek at my 2013 Kreskin racing predictions made late last December. It's downright ugly. After hitting .500 last year, I'll be lucky to erase the big goose egg currently sitting on my score board Not only that, but in the process I also jinxed a jockey and a trainer.