- Nobiz Like Shobiz was definitely the star sophomore of the day, but there were other performances at Gulfstream on Saturday good enough to warrant some mention.
Dale Romans seems to have a nice one in Spin Master. Dismissed at 16-1 in the second, a first-level allowance, the $500,000 son of Distorted Humor had the two favorites breathing down his neck after setting the pace to the top of the stretch. Pletcher's Soaring By was 4-5 making his first start since blowing away a maiden field at Belmont in July; and Langley was 5-2 returning after winning his only start at Saratoga for Graham Motion. Spin Master had made his only start a winning one too, but at Turfway, and the bettors were obviously skeptical.
But this one showed another gear, as he and Marc Guidry repelled the challenges in 1:22.51, getting home in 12.47, with a nice 36.84 for the last three furlongs. He's out of a Seattle Slew mare, and his second dam is the Grade 1 winner (Oak Leaf) Header Card, a half-sister to Ascot winner Bellotto.
As nice as that effort was, it may have been topped in the 4th by Curlin, a three-year old making his career debut, for trainer Helen Pitts. The son of Smart Strike (there's that name again) was a hot number on the board at 2-1 off some flashy morning works, and didn't disappoint one bit. Getting to the half in a quicker split than that of Spin Master - 45.48, he drew away to win by 12 in 1:22.25, getting the final furlong in 12.37.
Curlin was a $57,000 bargain as a yearling. She's out of a Deputy Minister mare and from the distaff family of the ill-fated Grade 1 winner Exogenous, and the champion juvenile filly Countess Diana (they all have War Exchange as their third dams).
And in the Swale stakes, Adore the Gold held off Forefathers as the pair pulled away from the rest of the field, including Pletcher's disappointing 3-2 favorite Cowtown Cat. I didn't get the impression that either were anxious to go much further, but Adore the Gold has already won around two turns, and trainer Michael Gorham told the Thoroughbred Times: "We’re going to stretch him out, but it’s just a matter of where and when.” Forefeathers, a $680,000 yearling from the Nick Zito barn, is by Gone West, out of a Lord at War mare who is a half-sister to Powis Castle, a stakes winner in the mid-90s each year from ages two through five.
On the West Coast, and as mentioned previously, Pletcher took the Sham Stakes with Ravel. The Sham is a rather odd Derby prep in that it's run at the maximum prep distance of a mile and an eighth early in the season; so it can give the winner some distance credibility early on. On the other hand, Going Wild won this race in 2005.
The son of Fusaichi Pegasus had already run and won around two turns, breaking his maiden in his last at Hollywood. Making the jump directly to a graded stakes, he faced a pretty tough field. He also got a pretty good trip with Garrett Gomez, who saved ground until swinging out for his winning rally, closing into a final three eighths of 36.26
Ravel was purchased by Smith/Tabor for $950,000 as a yearling; he's out of the graded stakes winner Let, by AP Indy; and he most certainly is now on the Derby trail.
"I'd think that since he showed an affinity for this track, the Santa Anita Derby is a real possibility," [acting trainer Michael] McCarthy said when asked about the horse's path to the Triple Crown races. "It's possible we might train him right up to the Santa Anita Derby." [Whittier Daily News]- Pitts had two more three-year old winners on Sunday at Gulfstream; take note. Her debuting filly Silverinyourpocket (Silver Deputy) held off Pletcher's 6-5 favorite Slamminpartygold in the 4th; and her For Your Reppo took the 9th as the 9-5 choice.
- And with apologies to Larry Collmus: How good is Prince??