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Friday, February 03, 2006

Gulfstream Three-Year Olds

- A couple of nice looking three-year old colts in Thursday’s sixth at Gulfstream; unfortunately for me, they finished in the wrong order. I had Jazil (Seeking the Gold) keyed on top at an overlaid 7-1, and when he took off for the lead three wide on the turn, I was feeling pretty good. Or, that is, I would have been feeling pretty good if I wasn’t at work and had seen the race live. But Corinthian (Pulpit) was the hot horse on the board, sent off as the 3-2 favorite over Pletcher’s morning line favorite Throng. And Corinthian, after sitting snugly on the rail, followed Jazil’s move, circled four wide, and outgamed him to the finish by 3/4’s length, getting the final furlong in :12.38. Nice effort by the top two, and I imagine we could see one or both of them in the Fountain of Youth.

Corinthian is a half brother to Desert Hero; his third dam is Claiborne’s graded winner Number, the dam of current sire Numerous, as well as Jade Robbery. If you go back to Special, his 4th dam, you see that this is the distaff family of Sadler’s Wells and Nureyev. Corinthian has inbreeding to Nijinsky, Buckpasser, Bold Ruler, and Raise a Native. He’s definitely bred for distance, and he ran like it today. Trained by Jimmy Jerkins, he’s sure to make his way onto some Derby lists after this effort.

- There seems to be a chance of rain for Gulfstream on Saturday, and that would suck of course. But let’s pretend I didn’t see that and proceed with handicapping, which is what I’ve read one should do in this case anyway. Better to concentrate on the basics first and then adjust accordingly if necessary. The Holy Bull is too good to pass up anyway. Sure, Barbaro’s turf form is awesome, and his closing fractions are scary; but if he’s the favorite as many expect, I’d have to take a stand against. Nonetheless, if he does translate his form to the dirt, he could possibly become many observers’ favorite for the Derby.

I had Itsallboutthechase in the Aventura, and I’d pick him without hesitation in this spot if not for the fact that he drew the ten post, which can be as deadly at this mile and an eighth route at Gulfstream as it is for a harness race. But he’s a dead closer, and he was extremely wide and on both turns after breaking from the same post at Churchill in a mile and a sixteenth race. I think he’ll thrive as the distance increases; he’s by Devil His Due and his dam has some tremendous distance pedigree, being by Dynaformer and being inbred to Ribot and the full brothers His Majesty and Graustark. His dosage index is only 1.20. If he gets some speed up front with horses leaving for position, perhaps he can mount a late run and get up at a decent price.

Doctor Decherd (Louis Quartorze) nosed out Itsallboutthechase in the Aventura, and draws inside of that one. He makes his first start around two turns. Flashy Bull ran second to the highly regarded Bluegrass Cat in the Remsen, earning the highest two-turn dirt Beyer in the field; he’s been consistent, but has run some slow final fractions, including a 39 second final 3/8ths in the Remsen; and he makes his first start since then. Nick Zito sends his undefeated Hemingway’s Key. He has a two turn win at Calder in a pretty slow race, and I don’t think he’s playing his best hand here. Sunriver, Ashado’s little brother, has the breeding to be any kind for Pletcher; but he opts to ride Velasquez on My Golden Song instead, hmm. Keep an eye on the latter being scratched, as Pletcher has been critical of the outside posts.

I figure if I’m going to play against Barbaro, I might as well go all the way and leave him out. I like Itsallboutthechase to turn the table on Doctor Decherd with a late surge; with Flashy Bull and Sunriver to round the exotics.

- Also check out the third – a maiden special weight for three year olds. There are two million dollar first time starters. Tawfeer (Storm Cat, $1.25M) goes for Kiaran McLaughlin, who is 1 for his last 23 debut runners. Tawfeer is a three-quarters brother to Spinaway winner Stormy Pick. Zinzan (Grand Slam, $1.3M) is a Todd Pletcher first-timer who doesn’t look like too much pedigree-wise to this untrained eye, so she must be quite a looker; watch the board. Also check out the tote on the three horse, Archilles. Trainer Patrick Byrne is good with first-timers, and this colt by Silver Deputy is a half-brother to Grade 1, and first-out winner Lion Hearted. The in-form horse is Steel the Glory, a troubled third to Barbican, who subsequently ran himself into the Derby outskirts with a big allowance win.