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Monday, February 12, 2007

Second Stringers

- I wanted to take a look at some of the second and third tier Derby hopefuls....ones that people perhaps actually got some value on if they bet them in the futures pool. I'm not going to go off any more about the ridiculous underlays - I'll let Walter sacrifice his blood pressure to that cause. Though I must add here that it's not like I don't think any of those horses can win - I happen to really like Any Given Saturday, and would have bet a few bucks on him myself at his real fair value - which is certainly a lot closer to 41-1 than his closing odds of 14-1. I don't know if it was the Steve Klein article that Walter mentioned or just the Pletcher effect, but those were surprisingly low odds to be sure.

So I thought I'd check out the blogosphere for some ideas, and I saw that Patrick over at Pulling Hair and Betting Horses put a couple of bucks on Zanjero and Adore the Gold. Patrick is still bragging about having Barbaro in Pool 1 at 19-1 last year. As I've said, bragging rights for a Derby winner never expire. (For example, in 1980, not only did I love Genuine Risk as much as I've liked any Derby selection in my life, but I also correctly deduced that she would be higher odds on track at Churchill than at NY OTB [ah....the days of separate betting pools], and placed the bet at track odds with Duffy, my pslightly pseudo-nym for the amiable bookie/pot dealer who plied his trade(s) openly on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange [to clerks, like myself, and brokers alike, I might add.] She paid $28.60 at Churchill, and if I'm remembering correctly, a lot closer to 5-1 here.) (Oh, and I had the exacta with Rumbo too.)

Anyway, Patrick says, of Zanjero:

The race was slow and marred by an accident, but 56-1 for a horse that is probably a lock to get into the gates if he wants to I think is a little high. He has a better pedigree than my other choice as he is a half to Victory Lap, and from the same female family as Awesome Again and Macho Uno, so the ingredients are there. He's now lost to Notional and Nobiz like Showbiz (not too bad), has a win over the Churchill strip and is in the competent hands of Steve Assmussen, 56-1 seems a little high.
Zanjero was dead last along with Circular Quay passing the stands the first time, and made a huge, and probably premature move with Castellano, sweeping the field four wide and even wider turning for home. (Sorry for all the parenthesis tonight, but this was a great call by John Dooley at this point of the race. He noted that Notional was "in hand" and asked "where is Circular Quay going to go?" just before the spill.)

Zanjero was the leader at the eighth pole, but tired from his efforts and was collared by Notional, who saved more ground turning for home, and he just got nailed for second by Imawildandcrazyguy.

What I'd like to add is Asmussen's pre-race comments in the Form, which I had reported in this post:
Asmussen said he believes Fair Grounds's tight turns might not be ideal for Zanjero. Moreover, Zanjero hasn't started since he finished second to Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Remsen Stakes on Nov. 25 at Aqueduct, and his training pattern during a wet New Orleans winter has not been perfect.
Based on that, you'd think that Asmussen would be happy with the effort, but after the race he told the New Orleans Times Picayune: "For him to get to where he was at the eighth pole, I was a little disappointed...I'm not going to say he wasn't ready when (Appealing) Zophie [parenthesis not mine] runs like that off the same works."

Still, it was a pretty solid effort, and he didn't have things nearly as easy as (Appealing) Zophie did. Hmmm, 56-1?? I think Patrick has a pretty solid wager here.

Suebroux at Post Parade also put a deuce down on Adore the Gold, but more on sentiment, which is generally a worthy enough reason in itself at 33-1.
Adore the Gold reminds me of one of my favorite horses, Afleet Alex. The humble beginnings of Delaware races - he even broke his maiden with Jeremy Rose on board. The tragic story behind this colt: The death of breeder Dan Mallory in the Comair crash last summer. And as it turns out, Mallory had been on his way to [Sue's hometown] Lone Star Park when he was killed. Spooky. Granted, the Swale has never provided a Derby winner, but at 38-1, I decided to put a couple of bucks on a first time.
Adore the Gold has won from six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth, and has shown more early speed in his last couple of starts. He was hard pressed to a 44.69 half mile by Zito's Forefathers, but those two drew away from Pletcher's 3-2 favorite Cowtown Cat in the Swale with Adore the Gold prevailing. As Patrick mentioned, his sire, Formal Gold, was very fast; and he also had endurance, winning the Woodward, Donn, and Iselin. Adore the Gold is out of a mare by the graded winner Screen King, sixth (of only ten) in the 1979 Derby won by Spectacular Bid. He's probably not my style as far as Derby horses go, but he has speed, a quality which may come in handy this year, especially if horses such as Dreaming of Anna, EZ Warrior, and Exhale don't go.

Let's do one more this evening - Belgravia, a Mr. Greeley colt who went for $2 million to Smith/Tabor/Magnier at last February's Fasig Tipton two-year old in training sale. He's trained by Patrick Biancone, who seems to lay low this time of year, sticking to Santa Anita and spotting his horses selectively. He's only started 16 runners there this meeting, and has a record of 16-2-5-3.

This colt won at first asking (at 6-5, surprise), and then proceeded directly to the G3 Hollywood Prevue, where he defeated Notional by three lengths on the artificial surface. Then, he ran in the G1 Hollywood Futurity, and looking back at my post after the race, I recall how grand he looked on the track before the race. He got caught a full four wide from the ten post. It looked like he might back out of it approaching the far turn, but, after Leparoux deftly saved some ground there, he swung out and rallied a bit greenly to get 4th, just 1 1/2 back of the game Stormello. And remember, that was a slow pace that day - 47 3/5 to the half - and they came home rather quickly, in 30.53 for the last 2 1/2 furlongs.

Belgravia is out of a mare by Stalwart, who won the Hollywood Futurity himself, and suebroux may be interested to know that this is the distaff family of Afleet Alex - his second dam, Dorothy Gaylord, is the third dam of the 2005 three-year old champ. There's a lot to like about him, and can't you picture Leparoux in the winner's circle there? But I'd have to say that his 29-1 closing line in Pool 1 has to be considered borderline, at best, especially considering that he's never started on a non-synthetic dirt track.

1 Comment:

Steve D said...

Based on that, you'd think that Asmussen would be happy with the effort, but after the race he told the New Orleans Times Picayune: "For him to get to where he was at the eighth pole, I was a little disappointed...I'm not going to say he wasn't ready when (Appealing) Zophie [parenthesis not mine] runs like that off the same works."

This is a stunning comment, in my opinion. Does Asmussen think these horses are identical? Could Zanjero not need a few more works, or mabye a race to get fit? To equate the needs of two individual horses is just a surprise from me. Certainly in complete opposition to what Nafzger says in Maryjean Wall's column this week.