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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Saturday Stakes

- It was a rousing return to the races for Rockport Harbor; he showed the speed and the grittiness that had so many pulling for him to come back from his injury last year. The well-bet Cougar Cat, stretching out on the dirt for the first time, poked a nose in front in the stretch according to the race chart, but Rocky repulsed the challenge and pulled away in the stretch for a 2 ¼ length win.

“He’s not dead fit, but he was fit enough that I thought he would run very well,” [John] Servis said. “But the big thing with him is mentally. This race is going to move this horse way up.”
.......
“I mean, we’ve still got more work to do with him. Although this track today, as deep and tiring as it was, I’m sure this race will do a ton for him.” [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
The one question I have is this: How is it that his time of 1:47.68 was a quarter of a second slower than the three-year old who graduated on his fifth try in a maiden race run just before? I’m not raising that point to try and diminish Rocky’s performance in any way....just seems kinda strange, doesn’t it?

Jonesboro was completely empty in the drive and came in last; that’s the last time I listen to the “local wiseguys” at Oaklawn; perhaps they should stick to Instant Racing instead.

- Nice trip for Balance (Thunder Gulch) in her Grade 1 win in the Las Virgenes; the race set up perfectly with Diplomat Lady and a dull-on-the-board Meetmeinthewoods dueling for the lead through a brisk half mile of :45.72. That allowed Balance to sit behind and, according to Victor Espinoza, the filly was more willing to do so than she was in the Hollywood Startlet. "I think the last time I took too much hold and, when I tried to go, she resented it. But today she was perfect." [Bloodhorse] Itty Bitty Pretty was right beside her but as Walter correctly predicted, out blogging me on my own blog, it was Balance who was the strong horse in the stretch. Favored Wild Fit was along for second in a creditable comeback in a race that Patrick Biancone said she would need; guess the bettors don’t read the editorial section of the Form. Itty Bitty Pretty was third, so if I was selling a tout sheet, I could say that I had the triple.

And did you see Martin Pedroza trying to pull up Star Parade (Parade Marshall) after her Grade 1 win in the Santa Maria? Man, he had a handful, and as he finally got her to come back, she passed Proposed, who she had repelled in the stretch, and she seemed to shake her head and scoff at the notion that it was Proposed who was sent off as the 8-5 favorite. It’s been an up and down career for this seven year old mare – she won this race in 2004, but finished dead last in last year’s running – but she seems to be at her peak now. Or at least at Santa Anita, where she has three wins and two seconds in six lifetime tries.

- Achilles of Troy (Notebook) will step up into the thick of the Derby prep pictures when he ships to Gulfstream for the Fountain of Youth on March 4, his tentative next start. Ramon Dominguez showed the patience that owner Ernie Paragello cited as the reason for replacing Alan Garcia, as he sat behind pace-setting One Way Flight. The fans at the Big A were getting a little nervous, and apparently, so was Dominguez. "He's just very deceiving. He covers a lot of ground with ease....I got to the three-eighths pole and even got a little concerned because he was so relaxed. I wasn't sure if he was going to fire." [NY Daily News] Well, he fired alright; enough so that Dominguez was able to ease up on him in the final sixteenth.

It’s a little scary to think that both Paragello and his trainer Jennifer Pederson, who apparently don’t agree on much, think that their Scanlon’s Song (Partner’s Hero), being pointed for the Wood, is actually a better colt.

4 Comments:

thecalicocat said...

should any three-year-old be forced to go through three prep races at that deep Oaklawn track? Will that make a colt fit for the Triple Crown?

Walter said...

...i saw the Rockport Harbor race yeasterday, and i even bet him (place-only), as there was some type of anomaly in the pools...check out his prices and you'll see what i mean...anyway, he made a super-easy lead and appeared to be coasting along whiile having things all his own way...i had no idea the track was running that slow until they flashed the 6-furlong time (1:14?)...and a mile in 1:40?...good grief...in any case, he certainly appeared to have Cougar Cat measured, and regardless of how slow the track was running, i don't think there's any question that he got away with a slow fraction...as easily as he appeared to be moving down the backside, and the way he turned back Cuogar Cat when that one came to him, it's obvious he had a lot of gas left for the stretch run...i still find it hard to believe that he was outrun by a career maiden?...i'll have to look at the charts for sure, and i'll be anxiously awaiting that one's next start to try and gauge Rocky's effort somehow...in any case, nice comeback effort by Rocky, and an excellent training job by John Servis...i think this big, talented horse has the potential to be a real star in the handicap division this year...best of luck to him...

..speaking of stars, i can't wait for Too Much Bling's start in the San Vicente today...i was floored by that one's effort last time, and i think he's already among the best sprinters in the country, of any age group...same deal with Da Stoops...throw in the mega-talented Cal-bred Bro Lo (if he ever makes it back to the races that is, where the hell is he???) and the 3yo sprint division looks exceedingly tough, tougher even than the older sprint division i think...incidentally, i believe Lost in the Fog had his first workout of the year this morning...best of luck to him this year, he's gonna need it...

Walter said...

...i said i was looking forward to Too Much Bling's race today???...lol, i just checked the SuperTote site, and the race is already over...that's what i get for sleeping in...anyway, Mr. Bling-Bling won the race as the 4/5 favorite...it looks like Peace Chant ran second from the rail, which was no easy feat considering the level of competition today...the highly-regarded colts Sinister Minister and Totally Gone (each of whom ran in Point of Impact's debut) were also in the race today, assuming no one scratched out...btw, you have to wonder what Frankel's plans are for Latent Heat...if he didn't run him back in the San Vicente today, i'd have to think Bobby plans to stretch him out next?...i doubt he'd turn him back in distance to 6 or 6 1/2 furlongs now that he's already gone 7, and if he wanted to run him 7 again you'd have to think he would've gone today i think...it's possible Frankel just didn't want him knocking heads with Too Much Bling going short, but on the other hand, the San Vicente is a Grade 2, and you know he'd like to get some black type for the horse (not to mention more money) as opposed to simply running him back in an allowance sprint where he'd likely be 1/5 again...look for him to turn up in a one-mile allowance race very shortly, and then perhaps run back in the San Rafael during mid-March...of course, Frankel has been known to ship his good ones out of town, too...who the hell knows... 8^P

Walter said...

...i just read that Baffert will run Bob and John in the San Felipe on March 18, while Point Determined will sqaure off vs. Brother Derek in the March 4 Santa Catalina...

...also, today is February 13, and STILL no recorded workout from Your Tent Or Mine, who supposedly is marked for a March return...gotta think the Santa Catalina is out of the question right now, and the San Felipe is barely more than a month away...if Drysdale doesn't work this colt within the week, i think the cat's out of the bag...