- Grade 1 races for two-year olds at Hollywood Park this weekend. The Eclipse for the boys was decided in the Futurity last year, but this year the title is already presumably wrapped up by Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy. Let’s see if Merv has straightened out that misinformation about Beyer figures on his website. Nope, it’s still there. He calls himself a horseman and he doesn't read my blog? Stevie worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 on Wednesday; he’s preparing for his three-year old debut in the San Rafael on Jan 14. It’ll be his first start around two turns, which shouldn’t pose a problem on paper, but you never know. [Trainer Doug] O'Neill envisions a three-race preparation for Stevie Wonderboy before the Kentucky Derby. [Daily Racing Form]
The Futurity will be run around two turns at a mile and a sixteenth, and Bob Baffert’s Bob and John (Seeking the Gold) has been there, done that three times. He’ll be trying to avenge his controversial DQ loss in the Real Quiet stakes last month. On Sunday, Bob and John worked 5f in 1:01 3/5. Also working for the Futurity was Norfolk winner Brother Derek (4th in the Juvenile); the son of Benchmark (Alydar) got 5f in a minute flat; his trainer Dan Hendricks said "He did it in a gallop... . Alex [Solis] said he is stronger and more mature than he was going into the Breeders' Cup." [Bloodhorse]
Other probable starters are A.P. Warrior, Bashert..... Ecru Egret, Kobayashi, and Your Tent or Mine. [DRF]
On Sunday, the girls will go in the G1 Starlet, and much attention will be on Meetmeinthewoods (General Meeting), a runaway winner of her debut for O’Neill in 1:08.75. She worked six furlongs in 1:13 on Sunday. According to the Form, Sharp Cat winner Balance (Thunder Gulch), had an unrecorded workout of five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Wednesday. Also expected for the Starlet are Moccasin winner and runner-up Private World (Thunder Gulch) and True Xena (Yes It’s True), and the latter had a blazing work of five furlongs in :58 3/5. "It was a little faster than I wanted, but Jon said she did it on her own," said trainer Rafael Becerra after the move under jockey Jon Court. [Bloodhorse]
- Jay Privman in the Form takes a look at the recent struggles of Bob Baffert, and lists some of the extremely expensive failures he’s had in his barn of late.
Smart Again, who cost $500,000 as a weanling in November 2000. Extra cost $975,000 as a yearling in 2001. Stand and Fight was a $775,000 yearling purchase in 2001 whose first win came in a $25,000 maiden-claiming race. Contribute ($775,000) and Scenic Wonder ($625,000) were yearling purchases of 2001, and Truckle Feature ($500,000) was a 2-year-old buy in the spring of 2002. No need to worry if you've never heard of most, or any, of them.Privman points out that he also has an $8 million Storm Cat colt who has not yet raced in this, his two-year old year, ouch. All this money could have been better spent, of course; it could finance the war for about three and a half hours or so. Baffert said, "Some of those horses with great pedigrees, they're slow.”
There's more. From the next crop, there was the expensive bust Sea of Secrets, who cost $2.7 million as a 2-year-old in training in March 2003, along with yearling buys Work ($950,000) and Consistent ($700,000). [Daily Racing Form]
But he’s optimistic, as usual, for the coming year, despite the untimely passing of What A Song. In addition to Bob and John, he has an unraced Point Given colt named Point of Impact who, according to Walter in Las Vegas, has been bet from 300/1 down to 75/1 @ Wynn, and 100/1 down to 60/1 @ Bally's in the Derby futures wagering. That colt has already gotten a mention by Haskin, which I don’t know whether is good or bad, along with Regal Legacy, a Monarchos colt who cost $550,000.
- Declan's Moon is not quite ready to resume training, at least not at the track, and is headed back to the farm for a month. "He came out well on the nuclear scan, but the X-rays showed he has a little way to go," [trainer Ron] Ellis said.
- That $5 million land sale that NYRA needs is still not finalized, and CEO Charles Hayward warns that they will run out of cash - really and truly - by the end of the month if the sale is not completed. "We’re in discussions with the Port Authority.....The problem is they haven’t decided what land they’re interested in." [Thoroughbred Times] Hayward also said that NYRA is still, unbelievably, waiting for approval to start construction on their casino. There ain’t no way this thing is going to be ready by next fall as originally anticipated, and it’s quite possible that, if NYRA is still in charge, we could see this same sad scenario repeating itself next year once the Saratoga money runs out. They need the New York State Division of the Lottery to approve the contract with MGM Grand. I don’t want any of you to get in the habit of expecting me to do any real reporting here, but damn it, I’m going to call these guys tomorrow and ask them what the hell the holdup is. I guess they’re too busy getting people to piss away their money on stuff like this.