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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Notes - April 26

- Churchill officials are expecting an unusually small field for the $500,000 Oaks. [Daily Racing Form] If you were told a few months ago that Sweet Catomine would be retired before the end of April, you probably would have thought there would be a big field for the Oaks, but the emergence of Sis City seems to have made others wary.

- When the 3 yo filly Lemon Maid took the Star Shoot Handicap at Woodbine Sunday, it was just the second stakes winner from the first crop of her sire Lemon Drop Kid. His yearlings from that crop made a splash at the sales, with a top sale of $1.8 million (Lemon Maid brought $390K), but he only had 8 winners last year, and before Lemon Maid, his only stakes winner was Winning Season, who took an ungraded $50,000 winter stakes at the Big A (she also finished third in the G2 Demoiselle there, beaten less than 4 lengths by Sis City). Lemon Drop Kid has 7 winners so far this year, but ranked only 28th in 2005 earnings for second year sires before the weekend – he’ll move up a few slots now. Lemon Drop Kid himself was pretty successful at 2, with a 2-2-1 record in 6 starts and a win in the G1 Futurity, and a 2nd in the G1 Champagne. The 1999 Belmont and Travers winner (he was 9th in the Derby and skipped the Preakness) blossomed into a champion at 4, so we’ll see if his fortunes as a sire improve down the road.

This was just Lemon Maid's second start, having broken her maiden in February at the Fair Grounds with a 91 Beyer. She’s inbred top and bottom (sire and broodmare sire lines) 3x3 to Mr. Prospector. She comes from a pretty nice female family; her dam, Meter Maid was a multiple stakes winner including the G3 Gardenia; and her third dam, Dowery, was a stakes winner as well, and the dam of Demoiselle winner Minister Wife. This is also the family of Dynever.

- The CHRB is taking heat for rushing its case against Martin Wygod and presenting a sloppy case that led to dismissal of all charges. Jay Hovdey in the Form notes that regarding the issue of his pre-race comments about Sweet Catomine, counsel for the racing board barely raised the highly subjective issue. Now, the CHRB will investigate itself. It was admirable that they wanted to address the matter in a timely manner, but in their zeal, they ended up with an unsatisfactory result.

- The Courier-Journal of Louisville has the Derby field projected at 19. Now I’m confused. Does that include Don’t Get Mad? Is that with or without Greeley's Galaxy? Bobby Frankel finds hope for High Limit in the Ragozin Sheets.

"You know I'm a sheets guy….The three favorites all ran their best races the other day. If they can back up a little bit and some other horses move forward a little bit, it could be a tight race. If you just read the sheets, it's going to be a closer race than everybody thinks." [Courier-Journal]
I’d read elsewhere that he said that High Limit had “paired up 4s” in his last two, which he said means he’s sitting on a big race. I don’t know enough about that to comment further, except that he had indicated after the Blue Grass that the horse came out of the race pretty tired.

- A couple of his fellow trainers on Jeff Mullins:
"He's a good horseman," Baffert says. "He's had some bad press lately, mainly because he doesn't have a lot of media savvy."

Adds [General John B. trainer] Roger Stein, "They can say what they want about him, but Jeff's an exceptional trainer. I've told him he's a much better trainer than he is a speaker." [USA Today]