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Friday, March 09, 2007

Gulfstream Saturday

- Race 4 is a maiden special for three-year olds. Fearless Vision is listed as the 9-5 favorite after battling it out with Vitruvius, the half brother, by E Dubai, to Corinthian and Desert Hero making his debut for Jimmy Jerkens, and falling short by a head as the 8-5 favorite. (Castle Village partners might be interested to know that Fearless Vision is a half-brother to Seaside Salute.) That's two seconds in two starts for the son of Vision and Verse. His trainer Patrick Reynolds has been falling just a bit short too with a record of 18-2-4-4 at the meeting, but note that he had a winner on Friday.

Michael Matz has also been struggling to find the winner's circle at the meeting, but Chelokee won for him last weekend, and he had a winner on Friday as well, so maybe he's ready to get going. Diamond Fever ran second in Tiz Wonderful's debut at Saratoga, and then faltered in the slop around two turns at Delaware at 2-5, yikes! This is the first race since that debacle for this son of Seeking the Gold, out of the graded winner Radiant Ring.

Winning Aptitude is a first timer with a steady string of works from Frank Brothers, nine for 37 with debut runners over the last two years. He's by Aptitude, the third year sire whose Great Hunter topped this week's LATG top ten. Aptitude headed the second year sire list in 2006 despite the fact that he's had only three stakes winners in those crops. Winning Aptitude is out of a stakes winning Gulch mare who's a half-sister to the $225,000 sire Distorted Humor, who has a Derby candidate of his own in Any Given Saturday.

- In Race 5, watch out for Steve Klesaris, who finally broke out with the claimer Stay Safe on Thursday; it was the trainer's first winner in 18 runners at the meeting, most of those at short prices. He's a consistently high percentage guy who's won at a 32% rate over the last year, so expect his record to improve. King's Coronation returns from a layoff, and seems to be spotted confidently yet realistically in a tough 62.5K claiming event. Two of his main opponents may be horses trained by Patrick Reynolds and Michael Matz, the two other trainers we're looking to break out.

- Race 6 is another maiden special, this one loaded with first-timers. Dutrow has Holy Rock (Awesome Again), a house horse starting from the rail. The trainer has debuted two of these Stronach specials this meeting; one won at 9-1, and the other ran second at 5-1. Maybe Frankie was too busy playing the slots to get down. Zito starts Helsinki (Distorted Humor), and the trainer with the reputation of not popping them first out is 10 for 57 with those over the last year, a more than respectable 18%; he's one for 12 at this meeting. Minister's Appeal is 7-2 morning line for Mott in his first start since a third at Woodbine in November. It was a slow Beyer, and a weak field in terms of the performances of those who've run back.

Hold Your Ground is the Pletcher entry; Joe Bravo gets the mount with Johnny V at Fair Grounds. Bravo rides for the barn at Monmouth, though I think Chris DeCarlo is his main guy there. He's 11 for 48 for Pletcher, a winning percentage of 23%. This colt is by Hennessy out of a Private Account mare, and his 5th dam is Flower Bed, the dam of Flower Bowl, the dam of Graustark and His Majesty, my favorite full brothers of all time (though don't think for a minute that I go back far enough to have actually seen either of them racing). Berry Bound is an extremely interestingly-bred entry from Michael Gorham. Besides being by the 18% first-out sire Boundary, this colt is very closely inbred to Danzig, 2x3. That recalled this old post in which I linked to an article about how breeders in Australia were wary of crossing their Danzig broodmares to Fusaichi Pegasus, lest they create a 3x3 inbreeding. Danzig's notorious unsoundness makes some queasy about that combination, but apparently not the breeder of this horse. Berry Bound is working extremely well for Michael Gorham, 15% with first-timers over the last two years.

- Race 7 is the G2 Forward Gal for sophomore fillies at seven furlongs, and I'll just get right to the point and say that I love Alan Goldberg's filly You Asked (Yes It's True). If she's really 5-1, that would be quite the value play in my opinion. Though she's never been bet particularly hard, I don't think that will be the case considering that she has the field-high Beyer of 91, earned in her second to West Point's impressive Dream Rush in the Old Hat. Check out her last two races on Cal Racing if you can. Man, this filly comes flying late. She was out of the picture in the Old Hat until they were halfway around the turn, and was far, far behind third place finisher Dreaming of Anna, who she collared easily. She won her prior with a similar rush home. As you may know, I'm a sucker for closers like this.

But I'm a bit concerned that there won't be enough speed to set up her late charge. Silver Knockers, Nick Zito's undefeated 5-2 morning line favorite, should probably go for the lead if she breaks well, which she'll have to from the rail. Zito said of the post: "It makes you think about maybe scratching, but the owner wants to run, and I want to run, and there's really nothing else for her right now." [DRF] Hopefully there will be pressure from Changeisgonnacome and, maybe, Forever Together, unbeaten in her own right for Jonathan Sheppard, 0 for 18 at this meeting.

If the pace isn't hot enough, then Boca Grande could be the one in her first start since taking the Demoiselle for Shug McGaughey last fall over Get Ready Bertie, who has returned sharp this year. In her prior, her graduation day, she crushed Darley Stable's Folk, who subsequently came back to win by 10 in November, and hasn't been seen since. [EDIT: Actually, yes, she has...I meant, er, not around these parts...] Boca Grande is a Phipps-bred by AP Indy, out of Country Hideaway (Seeking the Gold), a half to Pleasant Home and the dam of the late Pine Island.

- Hall of Fame trainer Leroy Jolley, 0 for 39 last year, has gotten some stock to work with here from owners Bridle Path Stable and Tommy Roberts; and he has two winners from 12 starters. In Race 8, he starts The Niagara Queen (Langfuhr). She's been away since October, but has won off the layoff before. Her turf effort two back at Woodbine against a solid field of Canadian-breds produced a Beyer good enough to win this race - actually the highest in the field - and she attracts Cornelio Velasquez, who rode one of Jolley's prior winners here.

- The Bonnie Miss at nine furlongs for three-year old fillies is an odd Grade 2 stakes that I'm not going to touch. Morning line favorite Christmas Kid, trained by Jimmy Jerkens has won on turf and, most recently in the one mile Davona Dale, on dirt, but hasn't run around two turns on the latter. I wrote a bit about her pedigree here. Second choice Lost Etiquette just broke her maiden, at this distance, in her second start for Patrick Reynolds. High Again (4-1) ran second in the Davona Dale but has never been around two turns. Fee Fi Fo Fum makes her second start for Jerkens; she graduated on turf in her first. Good luck if you're planning to tackle this one!

And best of luck on the day.