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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Look Ahead

- Mike Watchmaker in the Form, in taking a look at the 2006 handicap division without Afleet Alex, brings up some names from the recent past that he considers to be possible dark horses. These are some names you may want to add to your watch lists to check on their progress. Or as in the case of Bandini, the lack of progress. What happened to this one? He was the third choice in the Kentucky Derby at 6.80 to 1; he had ankle surgery following his 19th place finish, and hasn’t had a recorded workout since then. With his breeding (Fusaichi Pegasus out of a half-sister to successful sire Stormy Atlantic) and a dominating win in a Grade 1 (Blue Grass), it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this one turn up in the breeding shed without running another race.

Greeley’s Galaxy had four published workouts in November. The Illinois Derby winner subsequently ran 11th in the Derby, and then 7th in the Preakness two weeks later in his last appearance to date. He was perhaps this year’s poster boy for young, lightly-raced horses being rushed unnecessarily into Triple Crown races. If you think that his Illinois Derby win was for real, then imagine what kind of factor he could have been in the depleted three-year old division later on in the year if handled with a little patience. Owner B. Wayne Hughes even spent $200,000 to supplement him for the Derby, what a waste.

I mentioned Rockport Harbor the other day; he’s working out at Oaklawn where the workouts are not yet being recorded. He breezed a half-mile in : 50 on Saturday morning, according to trainer John Servis. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]

We’re still waiting for Wilko to replicate his Juvenile win; this horse was full of excuses during his three-year old season, and had an ankle chip removed. He is training very well now, though, and is scheduled to make his comeback in the Malibu on opening day at Santa Anita. Buzzards Bay is also expected to appear that day, though in the grassy Sir Beaufort, according to an interview with trainer Ron Ellis in the Form last month.

And then there’s the Kentucky Derby winner himself, Giacomo, not seen since the Belmont Stakes. He had his first recorded workout on November 24, and is being pointed by John Shirreffs to the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 14 with the hope of getting a two-turn prep race in advance. [DRF]

The Derby favorite, Bellamy Road, hasn’t been heard from since his second in the Travers. Sorry Afleet Alex fans, and no offense intended, but my own most scintillating racing moment of 2005 was standing in an empty Aqueduct grandstand watching his 17 1/2 length romp in the Wood Memorial in 1:47, with Javier Castellano blowing kisses to the crowd. For one brief moment, it appeared as if the game had found the superhorse that could vault the sport back into the national consciousness. For some reason, despite his acrobatics and human interest stories, I felt that Afleet Alex was a cut below that status.

- Then there are all the horses who will not compete in the 2006 handicap division and have instead been moved to the breeding shed. Many of those are already listed in the Stallion Register. Interestingly, Borrego is amongst those; I don’t recall reading about him being retired. Do you? But he already has his own stud page, saying that he’s standing at Wintergreen Stallion Station for a private fee. Other prominent names here include Saint Liam ($50,000 fee), Eddington ($20,000), Roses In May (TBA), Offlee Wild ($15,000), Roman Ruler ($30,000), Consolidator ($20,000), and of course, the reigning Horse of the Year Ghostzapper ($200,000), who, according to the Adena website, is The fastest horse since the advent of Speed Figures. And a Full brother to opening day Saratoga winner ARISTOCRAT. There’s a selling point for ya.

1 Comment:

Walter said...

...one rather obvious name who Watchmaker managed to overlook (no surprise there) is the Drysdale-trained Fusaichi Samurai...this horse has a world of talent (or at least he did before suffering his mysterious setback), and he's been training regularly the last few weeks...good chance he could turn up in the Malibu, me thinks...he returned from his Derby-trail debacle in an optional-claiming or allowance sprint (won by Greg's Gold?) several months ago, where he ran horribly as the favorite, checking in last...he promptly disappeared again and hasn't been seen since, save for his recent appearances on the worktab...Drysdale has shown a lot of patience with this horse, and if he's back in serious training then i have to assumed that he may finally have things ironed out...no way of telling until he gets a race under his belt (or i see some VERY favorable workout reports), but if he returns healthy and ready-to-go, he's gonna be a handful for ANYONE to deal with...sky's the limit with this one...