- In tomorrow’s Santa Catalina, it figures that Spanish Chestnut and Going Wild will go for the lead, Declan’s Moon sits just behind, and goes by the tiring front-runners in the stretch; seems like you could handicap the race in a minute, but that’s no fun. Going Wild (Golden Missile) took the Sham in his first try around two turns and first beyond 7f for that matter, and here again is that Bloodhorse piece on his classic pedigree for any new readers who may have missed it. I think he’ll be the more determined of the two to have the lead, and I think he’s the quicker one too if push comes to shove. He set the pace in the Sham going the first 6f in 1:10:3, before slowing to a :25:3 fourth quarter, and lumbering home in :13 4/5, holding off the maiden Papi Chulla and a tired but game Giacomo, who was a million wide and minus one shoe. He actually cuts back a sixteenth here, which should help.
But Spanish Chestnut (Horse Chestnut) adds some classy speed that Going Wild didn’t have to face in the Sham, and he will certainly push him along even if he doesn’t make the front. He’s coming off a Grade 2 win in the San Rafael at a mile in which he also set the pace, went 1:10 to 3/4s and took 26:3 to get the last quarter. He’s been off since that race on 1/15. His trainer Patrick Biancone has done this before - he brought Lion Heart back off a similar layoff almost exactly one year ago in the San Rafael, where he set the pace and just failed to hold off Imperialism. Spanish Chestnut has worked sharply, including a half in a ridiculous: 45 flat, so I think he’ll be a forward factor, but figures to suffer the same fate late as Lion Heart did.
So it seems that Declan’s Moon (Malibu Moon) will indeed be in an envious position in his 2005 debut, even at 90-95% fit assuming his jockey Victor Espinoza can get him to relax behind the pace setters. He’s undefeated, and working solidly for his return for trainer Ron Ellis, showing an 8-17 record with 61-180 day layoff horses. He sits close behind the pace and comes home in racehorse time. I think that Spanish Chestnut will be the third choice and perhaps they’ll be decent exacta value if you are willing to leave Going Wild out.
- Gary West of the Dallas-Ft Worth Star Telegram, however, raises questions about Declan's Moon.
On the other hand, has his talent truly been tested? In the Del Mar Futurity, he raced on the best part of the surface and defeated only three horses. In the Hollywood Futurity, he beat horses that were on the downward slope of their campaigns.I'll add in fairness that one of the 3 he beat at Del Mar was Roman Ruler.
- As I mentioned, ABC will televise the two Derby preps from Santa Anita and Gulfstream, but not the Santa Anita Handicap nor any of the other graded stakes from the two tracks tomorrow. Steve Crist in the Form (subscription only section) makes an excellent point
Magna Entertainment, which owns Gulfstream and Santa Anita, has put together two truly spectacular cards of racing for Saturday. It could have been the best racing telecast of the year, but instead Magna spent its time and resources buying a national broadcast of the Sunshine Millions, statebred races in which a national audience has no compelling interest. The racing Saturday couldn't be any better, but until the industry begins to cooperate and make better decisions on showcasing its product, too many people will be playing poker instead of horses. [Daily Racing Form]
- The war between the Jockey Guild and Churchill Downs heats up, as Churchill is cutting off its voluntary contributions (for which they still have not gotten an accounting from the Guild) and suing them for anti-trust violations.
The lawsuit claims the Guild orchestrated walkouts by jockeys at Churchill Downs Nov. 7 and Hoosier Park Nov. 12. CDI, which believes the action was aimed at disrupting business, is seeking damages given the financial impact of the jockeys' action at Churchill at Hoosier Park.Skehan also added that the action is directed against the Guild and not the riders. “We don't believe guild management is really acting in the best interests of their membership. We're really trying to focus this on the management. We hope the jockeys will understand this."[FOX]
"Since the November incidents, it has become evident that the Guild orchestrated these boycott activities as a means to hurt our business," CDI chief operating officer Andy Skehan said in the release. "We believe the evidence will compel the court to declare such activities illegal and provide CDI and its operations injunctive relief to prevent future boycotts. [Bloodhorse]