- I have to be honest and say that I didn’t know who trainer Ian Wilkes was when I saw that he took three in a row at Gulfstream on Thursday. So I looked it up. He’s an Australian-born former assistant to Carl Nafzger who went out on his own on New Year’s Day, and now has five winners for the meeting. All three of his winners on Thursday were formerly trained by Nafzger, they were all coming off layoffs of approximately two months, and had all last started at Churchill. Same goes for his winner Ominous last weekend. He started his string of wins in the 7th with Atlas Valley, a four-year old Capote filly who had flashed potential at two and three, but has really improved since the addition of blinkers three races back.
In the 8th, it was Candy Ma’am (Lemon Drop Kid) graduating on the turf at 5-1 (10-1 on the morning line), holding off the late charge of 4-1 second choice Eden’s Causeway, the half-sister to grass champ Paradise Creek that we mentioned the other day. Javier Castellano was aboard, as he was for Atlas Valley, and this was actually his third win in a row. And in the 9th, it was Bucharest (Victory Gallop) taking the feature at 5-2. Talk about a bad favorite; Aristocrat was the slim betting choice, no doubt because he’s trained by Frankel and is a full brother to Ghostzapper (and maybe also because Castellano was on board). His two previous allowance tries, one each on dirt and grass, were pretty poor, and he didn’t fare much better here, pressing a hot pace and tiring to sixth.
Todd Pletcher has cooled off a bit and as noted a few days ago, some of his starters are really getting overbet. In the 6th, his Bella Signora (Giant’s Causeway), ran last as the 7-2 favorite in her first try on the grass. The winner, Aunt Henny (Hennessy), was a hot number, going off at 7-2 in what was her first grass try as well; she was 10-1 in the morning line, and hadn’t shown a hell of a lot on the dirt for trainer Michael Matz.
- Music School makes his much-anticipated three-year old debut as the 2-1 morning line favorite against seven allowance rivals at six furlongs on Saturday.
- I had to laugh when I saw this comment by Bernadette Castro after the hearings in New York this week: "I think every member of the committee learned something they did not know before.” [DRF] When you look at the backgrounds of the committee members other than Jack Knowlton, as well as that of Castro herself, you see that they would probably all have learned something even from Funny Cide, if he had testified.
Speaking of talking horses, there was a cute piece in the NY Times on Thursday, in which a father went to the experts for answers to questions that his six-year old son asked. Questions like "What would hurt more: getting run over by a car or getting stung by a jellyfish?" (jellyfish.) He also asked "What does 'from the horse's mouth' mean?" and the answer came from James Lipton, author of the book "An Exaltation of Larks" .... which traces the history and meaning of English expressions, and an experienced horseman.:
" 'From the horse's mouth' is a bettor's term. It has to do with horse racing, because people always want to know everything they can before they put their money on the horse. And 'from the horse's mouth' means, quite simply, that somebody has inside information, and as close as you can get to the source is the horse's mouth. In other words, the horse himself has confided in you. I don't think it's the least bit metaphorical, it's just a plain horseman's way of saying, 'I know this for a fact and this is the real McCoy.' There is one caveat: anybody who has spent a lot of time around horses knows they are singularly uncommunicative animals. They are not very talkative, unless they are Mr. Ed." [NY Times]