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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

And thanks, as always, for stopping by!

- Stellar Jayne makes her final appearance in Friday’s Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap after a disappointing run in the Distaff. "We were a little disappointed we finished fourth in the Distaff," said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "I don't think being in the second flight of horses was the best spot for her. I thought she'd be closer up than she was or even on the lead." [Bloodhorse] Frankie Dettori rode her that day, and Jerry Bailey will make the trip to New York to ride her; she’s two for two with him on board. Godolphin paid $3.6 million for her last year, and she’s only made it to the gate three times for them. She was pointed all year specifically for the Distaff, and as John Kimmel, trainer of Seeking the Ante, pointed out, "A lot of horses don't run the races you think they will after the Breeders' Cup."

So while I have no hesitation in trying to beat her, with whom? Pletcher has Bohemian Lady breaking from the rail; she looks to have some speed, and may challenge Stellar Jayne on the lead, but she comes up short in this kind of company. Seeking the Ante trounced NY breds in the slop in her last. Areek has run well pretty well in graded sprint stakes in her last two, but a mile may not suit her. Ender’s Sister won her last by 19, but it was in the slop at Keeneland, and if we can throw out any bad races we want from the fall meeting there, can’t we throw out good ones too? So while I think the Top Flight is screaming for an upset, no one inspires me. Maybe hit the “all-but-Stellar Jayne” button?

- The other big stakes on the day is the G2 Clark at Churchill, and here too we have a horse coming off a loss on Breeders’ Cup day. But in this case, the third place finish by Perfect Drift in the Classic was a big positive for the tough six year-old gelding, as noted by his trainer Murray Johnson. "Our horse came out of the Breeders' Cup in perfect shape...He's sitting on a big race, I believe." [Daily Racing Form] However, we’re always willing to go against a horse that has won a single race on the dirt in his last 15 tries, especially when he’s the favorite, which he likely will be.

I like Magna Graduate, and that’s something I wouldn’t think I’d ever write a few months ago when I considered him to be a second-stringer, and a mediocre one that always got bet at that. Well, for one thing, we’re down to all second stringers, really. But since Todd Pletcher took over, Magna Graduate has shown much improvement, with two close seconds and, most recently, two wins. I was still skeptical even after he won the Pegasus at the Meadowlands based on the competition he’d been facing, but his win in the Discovery at Belmont on Breeders Cup day, in which he closed strongly and quickly, getting the last 2 ½ furlongs in :29.4, to defeat Scrappy T and Buzzards Bay has me thinking that he’s ready in his first test against older horses.

A.P. Arrow is another horse that I’m grudgingly coming around to. I’d chalked up his close second and win in allowance company at Saratoga to weak competition and/or slow final fractions. But he did well jumping up to Grade 2 company in the Super Derby, closing quickly to miss The Daddy by a neck. That was an extra furlong though, and I think he’s good for a part of the purse at best here.

It’s time for Suave to put up or shut up. His connections have touted this one mightily prior to his last two, a second to Borrego in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and a thoroughly decent 5th in the Classic, just a half length behind Perfect Drift. And his trainer Paul McGee is exuding confidence once again. "No doubt it's going to be a tough race, but I see my horse as the horse to beat." [Bloodhorse] He should find the competition easier here and has no excuses left. Alumni Hall is a consistent sort, and M B Sea is sharp now, and either could sneak into the triple. If Andromeda’s Hero wins, I’ll eat the paper this is written on.

I like Magna Graduate, with Perfect Drift and Suave to complete the exacta.

- Henny Hughes is off to Dubai where he will prepare for a Triple Crown campaign in 2006. Gee, that strategy has always worked SO well in the past.

- First year sire Forest Camp has had his stud fee raised to $25,000 from his 2005 fee of $15,000, and from his previously announced 2006 fee of 20K. His son Your Tent Or Mine took the Hollywood Prevue last weekend in pretty sensational fashion, completing the seven furlongs in 1:21.

- Here's wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving day. Peace.

5 Comments:

Tote Board Brad said...

On behalf of your loyal readership, let me extend a Happy Thanksgiving to the management of LATG.

The turkey is on the grill, HRTV on the tele, and beer in hand. Another outstanding Thanksgiving!

cookie jill said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lord knows I've played enough "turkeys" at my time at the track.

Thought you might be interested in this NPR story of the Fair Grounds.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5026770

Walter said...

...Happy Thanksgiving, guys...hope everyone had a great holiday...

...as for Stellar Jayne, i like her tomorrow...she gets a class drop, and since this is a one-turn mile, i of course checked to see how she's done in one-turn races recently...not counting the Breeders Cup, it looks like she's won them all (or at least as far back as they're showing in the Form)...

1 1/16 @ Belmont, gate-to-wire
7 1/2 @ Belmont, gate-to-wire
1 1/8 @ Belmont, gate-to-wire
1 1/8 @ Belmont, virtually gate-to-wire

...throw in the fact that Bailey was aboard for those two most recent efforts, and that certainly helps...plus, since she's being retired, this isn't a prep, and i have think she's 100% cranked (or at least pretty close)...i'm aware of the "Breeders Cup Bounce", but Stellar Jayne isn't a typical candidate, this being only her 4th start of the year...not sure what kinda price she'll be tomorrow, but i'd be happy with 8/5 or better...

Dave said...

It will be interesting to see how the horses that recorded big pace and speed figures in the BC Classic fare in the Clark. While I am not suggesting that Saint Liam isn't a great horse in any way, the BRIS figures recorded by Perfect Drift and Suave are somewhat out of line with the rest of their records and the same is also true of Magna Graduate on the same day (I don't know what the Beyer figs are). I like Suave the best of this bunch because he ran well near the pace but if you discount the BCup figs, then I like the chances of Alumni Hall an awful lot in here. I'll use him on top with MB Sea in the tris and exactas and hope for the best. Maybe I'll get a square price on Alumni Hall too. In any case, it should be an interesting race to see.

Walter said...

..Alan, great call on Magna Graduate!...i bet him myself, but i must admit, i might not have done so if you hadn't gotten me looking at the race...i remembered he had outrun Stevie Wonderboy & Co. on BC Day (though of course, those are 2yo's), and i saw that he had also finished quite strongly in the Pegasus (last 1/4 in 12 flat)...didn't look like there was much opposing spoeed in the race today, and i thought he could work out a nice trip, and i also considered the "BC Bounce" in regard to Suave and Perfect Drift, so i decided to take a shot with him @ 4/1...wow, what a race!...i think the soft early fractions won the race for him, as Magna had plenty of gas left in the tank when Suave came to challenge him leaving the turn...i thought Velazquez waited just a touch too long to push the button, but other than that, he gave him a superlative ride...and a GREAT job by Pletcher, who seems to have gotten the best out of this horse...thanks again for the heads-up!...