- Christening (Vicar) goes in the 4th at Delaware on Tuesday; it’s a 25K maiden claiming event on the grass. Trainer Graham Motion is obviously determined to try this filly and her 201 Tomlinson grass number on turf; and there's no rain in the forecast this time. She drops from 40K, but faces some fillies that are not only making similar drops, but who have already shown some affinity for the lawn.
What exactly is Gary Contessa doing here with Princess Langfuhr, a sharp second two back for a 45K tag at Belmont, running for an $18,000 purse? Contessa has only one prior starter at this Delaware meet (7th, at 3-1), and had just one for the entire 2005 meet (a 3rd). This filly looks very formidable; she has a big edge on figs and class. I can’t help, however, but consider this to be a highly suspicious drop.
Royal Sip is a more legitimate looking drop in my opinion. Her form says to me that she’s seeking her level. Princess Langfuhr’s level, on paper at least, would appear to be higher than this. The problem is that Royal Sip hasn’t been out since September; her trainer Jonathan Sheppard hits at 11% with 180+ layoff horses on the grass. Sheppard is hot right now; he is 4-5-3 with his last 14 starters at Delaware, many of those at generous odds.
Clown Factor was 9-2 in his grass debut, at the 40K level. She was pinched at the start, put in a decent, even try, and drops in class after a poor effort in an off-the-turfer.
And then there’s Christening. I don’t have any more to tell you about this filly in which I own several percentage points than would the Reverend Jesse Jackson. We don’t get barn reports from Delaware, and I wouldn’t know it if she had grown a fifth leg. I suppose the trainer sees something which would indicate that she might like the grass; there’s certainly little in her pedigree that says so. She would have to be significantly higher than her 4-1 morning line to warrant a bet in my opinion.
The fact is that Contessa’s filly lays over the field; but if her owner is just there to play the slots and to try to get his filly claimed, then an exacta box of Clown Factor and Royal Sip could be in order.
- And then Highland Cat (Tactical Cat) makes his long awaited return in the 9th at Belmont on Wednesday, facing a full field of 45K maidens on the grass at a mile. He was out on the track Monday morning, and breezed an unrecorded three furlongs in 39 3/5, which was what [Bill Turner] had told the exercise rider to do. (The clockers did manage to locate Discreet Cat [3f in 37.45] and Bluegrass Cat [5f in 1:01.17] on this morning, but not Highland Cat. He kind of blends in with that subtle grey.)
Highland Cat has the second highest turf Beyer in the field, and the highest one was earned in a sprint. Here’s the analysis from the Form’s Closer Look:
Freshened off a career race, he'll need some help on the front end but figures nicely here; half of dam's 4 wins came on grass; a half bro was a four-race winner on turf; 4th finisher in last graduated in this league in next out, 10th finisher took a maiden $35K seller by almost 7 on June 2; there seems like enough pace here to help the cause; contention goes long.I’ll take a closer look at the field tomorrow. So both of our horses are running for tags within 24 hours or so, and what are the chances of us having zero horses, and $70,000 instead come Wednesday night? Christening is a nicely-bred filly, and at some level she becomes a broodmare prospect for someone; though probably not here. As for Highland Cat, he comes off that fine turf debut, and as the man said above, he has nice turf breeding. I would think that a prospective buyer would be wary of the layoff following that turf race; but I don’t think I’d be totally shocked.
You and I know that the horse was very tired after that last effort, and Turner seems to have been very careful handling him since; remember, he refrained from entering him last Saturday because he "wasn't quite right." But he’s breezed twice since then, and trainer and gelding seem happy, so it’s on to Wednesday.