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Friday, March 23, 2007

Showtime for Hard Spun

- Just one Derby prep of significance today, though just how significant remains to be seen. Hard Spun (Danzig) drew the ten post but trainer Larry Jones is not too concerned about the post nor the apparent speed inside. "This is not a one-dimensional horse....We're not concerned how the pace shapes up." [AP] The pace shapes up as a contested one, with Sports Town, Bullara, and Forefathers inside. But Hard Spun got experience being behind the pace in the Southwest, and now he races on a surface on which he's trained extremely well. "He just floats over it," said Jones' wife and assistant, Cindy Jones.

And as I've mentioned, I really do like his pedigree, with his third dam Luiana having been the first dam of the Preakness/Belmont winner and three-year old champ Little Current, one of the first thoroughbreds that I recall capturing my fancy during my formative years. So I respectfully disagree with the commenter who derided Hard Spun's ability to get nine furlongs, and I suppose we'll find out shortly who's right this afternoon.

Todd Pletcher may hold the key to this race, and what else is new? Twilight Meteor has an extremely impressive record running on grass and Polytrack, and had perhaps his best race on the latter last November against two impressive performers in Marcavelli and Admiral Bird. (Curiously, neither of those colts have raced since.) Forefather looks to bounce back from a troubled start in the Hutcheson and Zito told the Form: "I will let everybody in on this: This horse trained unbelievable over the Polytrack at Keeneland when we had him there last fall."

However, this race is at Turfway, and it seems as if those surfaces have differed from track to track, particularly those running in different seasons. Turfway has had to tweak its Polytrack this year after a spate of breakdowns over the winter. We don't say that a horse is training well on the dirt at Belmont, so he'll like the surface at Tampa Bay; and I don't know if we're to assume that we can make that blanket statement about synthetics at different tracks. In any event and more importantly, this is the first race for Forefathers beyond seven furlongs, and I think he faces a tough task.

Sedgefield ran a close second to Twilight Meteor in the Hallandale Beach on the grass in his last, and he graduated over the Turfway track. He's another one who can contend if he can translate his improving form back to Polytrack. And Helen Pitts has For Your Reppo; he comes off a sharp second in Chelokee's allowance win at GP, and also has an improving Beyer pattern, as well as a confident trainer. Tough field, interesting race, but I'm going to stick with my convictions and pick Hard Spun.

- Pletcher took the 5th at Gulfstream on Friday with Oistins Bay, a second time starter by the deceased sire Deputy Minister; he ran off to win by 5 3/4 in 1:09.85. His final quarter of 12.30 was actually faster than his prior one of 12.43, while being hand ridden home. He has some unusual breeding, being inbred 2x4 to his sire's sire Vice Regent. He's out of a Boston Harbor dam who is a half-sister to the Grade 1 winner (Cigar Mile) Left Bank.

And I could go on and on as you know, but we're in Florida, and the Head Chef is calling for me to go with her to the weekly Farmers Market in Sarasota, so I'm off. Maybe I'll get her to do one of her Farmer's Markets reports, which you may have seen if you were with us during Saratoga. Anyway, enjoy the day of racing.


Superfecta said...

I love Hard Spun's pedigree too, but I suspect his best nine furlongs are on turf, not dirt. I've picked him to do well today, but I think his numbers, while improving, are still a bit on the low side.

I think he could be a really tough competitor on turf come July or August, depending on how his spring shapes up.

Unknown said...

I have to hope Hard Spun does well in order to maintain momentum in the RttR standings. That said, I really like Twilight Meteor's chances and would put him on my ticket were I near a betting establishment. ^-^

Valerie Grash said...

Great pick with Hard Spun! He was impressive today. Twilight Meteor totally disappointed me, and thought Sports Town might have stepped up with a big race, but, alas, it was not to be.

And in that 5th race at Gulfstream, Michael Matz lost again, with Ramapo. Sorry, Michael, but just thought I would mention that :)

Nick Zito had a big winner in today's 8th race at Gulfstream; Comprise paid $193.40, with Junior Alvarado aboard. Man, what is it with Junior bringing in the longshots?

Alan, hope you are enjoying Florida. Nothing but rain here in the north.