by Jeremy Plonk
August 24, 2020
Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.
August 17-23, 2020
MVP: Rushing Fall
Owner: e Five Racing Thoroughbreds (Bob Edwards)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Performance: What looked to be the race of the year so far in the Filly and Mare Turf division lived up to the anticipation in the Aug. 23 Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga. Rushing Fall, the 7-5 favorite in the field of 5, outkicked pacesetter and second wagering choice Mean Mary with a fierce stretch run. The pair came home in :22.40 and :11.58 splits the final 3 furlongs that left superstar Sistercharlie incapable of making up any ground in third. After an opening half-mile in a tepid :48.30, the final three furlongs in sub-:34 was remarkable. Rushing Fall is now a 6-time Grade 1 winner and 11-for-14 overall.
On Tap: A 5-time graded stakes winner at Keeneland, her legendary Lexington resume fits snugly into the 2020 autumn calendar. The Grade 1 First Lady on October 3 could be next, where she would have a chance to rebound in the only Keeneland race she’s ever lost (fourth in that event a year ago). The connections could opt to run a quarter-mile longer in the Oct. 10 Grade 1 Flower Bowl at Belmont. The Breeders’ Cup Mile or the Filly and Mare Turf at Keeneland would then be on the table for November 7.
Honorable Mentions: At Del Mar, Maximum Security ran his record to 10 for 12 lifetime with a 3-length victory in the Aug. 22 Grade 1 Pacific Classic. The disqualified 2019 Kentucky Derby winner has been beaten to the wire just once in his career and clearly has established himself as one of the Breeders’ Cup Classic favorites. Away since January, Mo Forza returned Aug. 23 to win the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile with a rocketing rally by 4-1/4 lengths. He appears the west coast’s top contender in the Breeders’ Cup Mile division off that effort. Halladay took advantage of a soft pace and wired the Grade 1 Fourstardave on turf at Saratoga on Aug. 22. Among those in his wake were defending race champ Got Stormy and reigning champion turf female Uni. Golden Pal returned successfully from Royal Ascot with an eye-catching win Aug. 21 at Saratoga in the Skidmore Stakes. The son of Uncle Mo-Lady Shipman appears a top contender in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint ranks for Wesley Ward.