- Some observations on Saturday's Gulfstream card:
- In Race 2, a couple of colts who have burned a fair amount of money in their young careers, True Competitor and Marchfield, should vie for favoritism. True Competitor, being by Point Given, is eligible to improve; Marchfield (AP Indy), who led between calls inside the sixteenth pole in his last, makes his second start off a layoff for Mark Casse, who hits at 20% in that category. I watched his race two back from Woodbine, and have two observations on that race from November. First of all, and I know I'm in the minority here, Trakus is stupid. I'll concede the point on its usefulness in terms of providing exact stats on ground loss. But by devoting half of the split screen to it on its telecast, Woodbine either sacrifices the close up shots of the leaders, or, when they do briefly switch to it, force viewers to momentarily actually have to watch the dots to know where their horse is if it's not up front.
Secondly, the field kicked up a cloud of dust on the Polytrack that looked like that which accompanies Pig-pen. Man, what the hell is in that thing? I know I'd be at my doctor getting my lungs x-rayed if I rode through that crap all winter.
Strange to see Sahara Heat in this heat. He ran a great second in his last race, his first on the grass after two disappointing dirt races for Darley; I wrote that he was insanely wide on the turn with Johnny V, who chose him over a Pletcher entry that day. Why he's going back to dirt, I can't say, but Johnny V says vamanos, switches to Vamanos (beaten six lengths by True Competitor in last) and is replaced by Manoel Cruz.
- Rescue Party starts from the rail in Race 3, and I was going to warn to be wary of horses like this who are touted by Haskin as Derby contenders off of maiden wins. Until I actually watched that maiden win, that is. After a slow start, Javier Castellano had an absolute handful with this strapping son of Monarchos, who seemed to tower physically over his rivals. Shug McGaughey is having a slow meeting, with just three winners from 27 runners. But he seems on the verge of a breakout, with a recent record of 12-1-5-2. Rescue Party will have to overcome the rail today as well.
Deadly Dealer may be overbet for Pletcher in his first attempt on a fast track. I recall the debut win by Boogie Boggs at Saratoga; it came at a time when Zito was on a rare roll with first-timers, and in a race that fell apart at the end. So I made a mental note to downgrade the effort. But the race produced four next-out winners, and he ran creditably in his return here against a very tough field, including Spin Master, a contender in the Hutcheson later on.
- Race 4 is loaded with first timers, including a trio of Triple Crown nominees. But all three hail from barns that are ice cold with debut runners. Mr. Sidney is a $3.9 million son of Storm Cat, out of Tomisue's Delight, a Grade 1 winner and half-sister to champion Mineshaft. Trainer John Kimmel is having a great meeting, with eight winners out of 22 tries. But he's 0 for five with first timers, and just 1 for 33 with them at Gulfstream over the last five years.
Perusal makes his debut off three bullet workouts for Shug. He's by Dynaformer, out of Gaze, a Danzig half-sister to Shug's Haskell/Travers winner Coronado's Quest (and when's the next time we'll see a horse accomplish that double). But, as we've documented here before, Shug doesn't win with first-timers much anymore - his winless streak is now 28 going back nearly one year to Pine Island.
Gold Brew, a $475,000 son of Tough Gold, starts for Bill Mott, who is winning at a 15% clip at the meet. But he's 0 for 15 with first-time starters there, and is winless with his last 24 overall, most of those at long odds.
Pletcher has two first-time winners from 16 starters at the meet, but that of course doesn't include anything that happened when his horses started under the name of Anthony Sciamatta, Jr. He has two of them here, including Takes My Song with Velazquez. He's by Unbridled's Song, a 14% first-out sire, out of a half-sister to the stallion Mutakddim, and is a half-brother himself to an Irish stakes winner. This is the Phipps-influenced distaff family of Bluegrass Cat - they both have Dance Number as their third dam.
- Race 5 is a tough allowance; any number of these could get prominent Haskin space with an impressive win. Shug has Sightseeing, second in the Nashua last fall to Day Pass, who ran fifth in Dubai this week. He's stuck out in the ten hole, which seriously compromises his chances here. Silver Express almost overcame the eight post in his last try here; despite being wide both turns, he almost collared front running longshot Hal's My Hope, who stole the race after helping to set a snail's pace. They came home in 36.4 for the last three furlongs. He draws just a little better in post seven today. Highest Degree closed very impressively from way back into the quick closing fractions in that race, and adds blinkers for Ken MacPeek, and that's a 33% move for the barn, having a nice meeting at the Gulf.
- I wouldn't dare pick against Cornthian in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. But Hesanoldsalt and AP Arrow, two horses subject to my derision earlier in their careers, both seem to have developed into seriously nice racehorses. They finished a head apart, just two lengths behind Invasor in the Donn. AP Arrow did so in his first start off a layoff for Pletcher, and I don't know if he was one of his "layoffs are overrated" horses, or if he "wasn't fully cranked." But I know he's much improved after moving from the Lukas barn and seems likely to complete a short exacta here.
- In the Hutcheson, you might want to upgrade Spin Master if Boogie Boggs runs well in the third. King of the Roxy makes his first start, for Pletcher, since running up the track in the Juvenile, so beware, as always. This is the son of Littleexpectations that Team Valor purchased based on Barry Irwin watching him graduate on TV. He gets a nice post here, as well as Edgar Prado, and maybe a little price premium based on the fact that Velazquez rides the barn's Out of Gwedda instead. Prado won his only mount for the barn at the meeting, on Twilight Meteor.
- Fascinating matchup in the works for the Richter Scale, with the undefeated Half Ours taking on Diabolical, who seemed to really develop into a crack sprinter late in his three-year old season for Steve Klesaris. This is his first race since his close second to Thor's Echo in the DeFrancis last fall. However, it may be worth noting that Klesaris not only is 0 for 15 at the meeting, but he's burned more money than the Pentagon while doing so. He's had losers at 3-5, even money, 6-5, 8-5, 2-1 and 5-2 twice each, 9-2, 5-1....only three started at double digit odds. So beware.
- And I do like Drums of Thunder in the Fountain of Youth. When I picked him for a piece of the Holy Bull, I noted that he seems to prefer two turns. But even at the one-turn mile that day, he continued his recent improvement, conceding ground on the turn to Nobiz Like Shobiz, but finishing persistently to only miss by 1 1/2. Now he gets what I think is his preferred route, and I like his chances to complete the exacta, at least. There's no denying the talent of Nobiz Like Shobiz, and if he puts it all together, he'll make me feel silly for picking against him again. But he's still quite green, and I thought Gary West made a point to think about when he said that he hasn't really shown any improvement since last fall. My sources tell me that the connections of Adore the Gold are extremely confident that the horse will handle distance; but the outside post, and the presence of plenty of speed inside of him, make this a tough task.
And by the way, what's with the trip comment of All out, prevailed for Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Holy Bull? Would you classify that as an all out finish? As a matter of fact, Velasquez started to ease him up just as he got to the wire. Oh well, enough of my babbling, enjoy the races and good luck!
Saturday, March 03, 2007
- Some observations on Saturday's Gulfstream card:
Posted by alan at 8:32 AM