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Friday, March 16, 2007

Start Making Sense of Derby Picture

- Street Sense is 4-5, Any Given Saturday 9-5 in the Tampa Bay Derby, and I guess you know who I like. Any Given Saturday has been atop my Todd Ratings all year, and this is showtime, as he faces the Juvenile champ. Just the usual warning, from trainer Carl Nafzger himself, regarding Street Sense, as is the case with any horse whose main objective is down the road.

"It's not so much where he finishes but how he finishes because after that race we have to make a big step forward to the next race."
"If we don't win it, we're not dead....But I would like to win it." [USA Today]
Well, he has to say that he'd like to win. But I don't think he really cares, and I just don't see how you can take a short win price under those circumstances. Especially since he won the Breeders Cup on that rail, and recent developments indicate that it may have been as golden as some believe. I've been neutral on the issue, but a poor effort by Street Sense on Saturday, which would come a week after Round Pond faltered in her return, and in the wake of Dreaming of Anna's disappointing 2007 form, would align me squarely with Pletcher, who said that the rail was a "conveyor belt" that day.

The Florida Oaks on the undercard is an interesting affair which features the return of Pletcher's Cotton Blossom, the 6-5 morning line favorite despite the presence of Zito's red hot Autobahn Girl. Cotton Blossom (Broken Vow) has been out since being four wide on that Breeders Cup track, and running third in the Juv Fillies. Two weekends ago, Pletcher won graded stakes with Wait A While and King of the Roxy, who had both been gone since the Breeders Cup as well.

Coming back from an even longer break is Desire to Excel, who you may remember crushing Pletcher's Octave in the Astoria at 24-1 in July. She then ran second to Cotton Blossom in the Schuylerville. That was at six furlongs, and Cotton Blossom hasn't won around two turns, though that wide BC race was certainly a good effort. This will be the first two turn try for Desire to Excel, who has bloodlines considered unfashionable by today's commercial standards. He's by Mt. Livermore (Blushing Groom), out of a mare by Quick Dip, a son of Vigors/Grey Dawn/ there's a lot of stamina on that distaff side at least. She's also inbred 3x4 to Crimson Satan, and has only instance of Northern Dancer or Mr. Prospector in her entire pedigree (ND).

The aforementioned Autobahn Girl, who has nary a trace of ND or Mr. P blood (by AP Indy, out of stakes winning Saoirse [Cure the Blues/Stop the Music]) has never been worse than second in seven starts, four of them wins. Zito went slowly with this filly; her last race, the 7th of her career, was her stakes debut; and a winning one over this track with a sweeping move on the turn.

Trainee - another filly with no traces of today's two most prominent bloodlines - ran second to Autobahn Girl in that stakes. She had no real excuse, but looks to me like she has some potential upside. Trainee has improved her Beyer in each of her five starts, and added blinkers in that last race. She's by Silver Charm, out of a stakes winning mare by Major Impact (Roberto/Hail to Reason/Turn-to). Her second dam, the stakes winning Lonely Girl, is a full sister to the 1994 Distaff winner One Dreamer.

- Street Sense has a fan in trainer Richard Violette Jr.
He's training spectacularly....I see him train every day at Palm Meadows, and if I had him I wouldn't be worried. Street Sense looks like he's the real deal there." [Louisvile Courier-Journal]
A couple more opinions on the untimely retirement of Holy Roman Emperor. Jerry Klein of FOX Sports:
About his much-anticipated battles with Teofilo this spring, British racing fans can only speculate on what might have been. As for his place in racing history, Holy Roman Emperor forever will be remembered not for his ability but as a symbol of his owner's unflinching love of money, not sport.
And Steven Crist, in the Daily Racing Form:
Unlike some other early retirements in this country, there at least was no doubletalk about phantom injuries tragically forcing a horse to the breeding shed. Nor should Holy Roman Emperor's youth and inexperience affect his success at stud. Two of this country's greatest sires, Hail to Reason and Raise a Native, went to stud after injuries cut their careers short, and Danehill's sire, Danzig, raced only four times.

All of those runners, however, had legitimate career-ending injuries, whereas Holy Roman Emperor is believed to be the first completely sound classic prospect sent to stud after only a juvenile campaign, simply to generate fees a year sooner. It marks a new low point in what the breeding community considers an acceptable racing career.


El Angelo said...

One note on Round Pond---given that the trainer has said afterwards that she tied up earlier in the week, there's a fairly easy excuse for her poor effort last weekend. I'm still not convinced that there really was a strong rail bias on BC day; Dreaming of Anna beat an execrable crop of 2yo fillies that still only has one decent horse this year (Rags to Riches) and Round Pond, who was a logical sleeper in the race, took advantage of a strong trip and tragic breakdowns by the two favorites. Street Sense also made sense obviously in hindsight, and his trip versus Circular Quay's on BC day may have been a 4-7 length difference.

Anonymous said...

Not much of a betting race, going to assume Any Given Saturday has a fitness edge over Street Sense, who, as I posted a while back, may be nursing some soundness issues. He is certainly not cranked up, so from a betting perspective need to key AGS over him and a long shot.

For the latter have landed on Delightful Kiss, a proven alw type closer on the grass who exploded last out, I think surprising his connections. He is now 3-2-1 on the dirt and his pedigree says he can run all day. May be any kind.

Actually wrote myself into a three horse box, hoping he is the real deal.

247 box.
4/27/27 for an extra unit.

Mr. Ed

alan said...

Good point re: Delightful Kiss. That was a strong field he beat too, with Chelokee, Sightseeing, and Came to Pass.

alan said...

El Angelo -

I agree that Round Pond and Street Sense were logical sleepers on BC day, and that's why I've remained neutral on the bias. But if SS runs poorly today, I think that would be strong evidence. The Juvenile has turned out to be quite the key race, and I would suspect that he should run quite well, even if he's not 100% cranked.