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Friday, April 27, 2007

Notes - April 27

- Doug O'Neill's Derby trio was on the track at Keeneland this morning, and Clocker-1, who we're happy to hear will be moving on to Churchill where he'll have to be our eyes in the absence of The Works, promises to report on these later on. They should also be available to watch on the Keeneland website (which is down as of this writing). As far as the horses remaining at Keeneland go, I've read that you can watch this coming weekend's works live on streaming video starting at 6:30 each morning. Dick Downey reports over at his fabulous The Downey Profile site that on Sunday, Pletcher plans to send out Derby contenders Circular Quay, Scat Daddy and Any Given Saturday, and likely Oaks favorite Rags to Riches.

Mike Welsch of the Form was at Keeneland this morning, and provides this recap:

Cobalt Blue was the first to breeze at 7:15 a.m., covering the distance in 1:11.69 after an opening half-mile in 46.88. Great Hunter, equipped with blinkers, followed nearly two hours later and went six furlongs in 1:13.04. Liquidity rounded out O'Neill's Derby trio, going in 1:11.65 while under pressure through the late stages. His gallop-out time of 1:24.23 was the best of the three.
I think I'm pretty much done with O'Neill's horses. I never much cared for Cobalt Blue, and you readers correctly called me out on Liquidity when I picked him in the SA Derby. I did like Great Hunter a lot after the Bob Lewis, but I think that the two-prep strategy is going to backfire with him after the way the Blue Grass was run. I just can't imagine that he got enough out of that race. His workout time today doesn't seem so hot either, but we get more details from Lenny Shulman over at Bloodhorse.com:
Bowing his neck, the son of Aptitude broke off just before the six-furlong mark and cruised through fractions of :12.2, :25, :37, :48.3, and 1:00.2 before finishing up in 1:13 and galloping out in 1:26.3. His neck was still bowed after the work, and O'Neill commented that "he looks like a show horse" as he watched him on Keeneland's big screen after the work.

Great Hunter was hardly blowing at all as he stepped off the track. "He got into a good, comfortable stride, and when Tony changed grips on him near the 3/8s and asked for more, he picked it up and really responded," said O'Neill, who had predicted beforehand that the work would go in 1:13.1.
Yeah, whatever. Sounds a lot like the Workout Mad Libs we were treated to the other day.

5 Comments:

Walter said...

I'm beginning to think Great Hunter will be WAY overlooked on raceday. Everyone seems to be tossing him after his 5th-place finish in the Blue Grass, as if to suggest he ran poorly. No way, dude. In fact, i defy you to show me where Great Hunter has EVER run poorly. Sure, he could've run a little better at times (Blue Grass, Breeders Cup, Del Mar Futurity), but the horse comes to run every time and he's capable of firing a very big shot in here. At what price, 20/1? Not too shabby. This Derby is wide-open, guys. Any one of 6 or 8 horses could win the race and i wouldn't be very surprised. Once you get past the obvious underlay of Curlin, and the likely underlay of Street Sense (my top pick), there figures to be good value on every other contender. Hard Spun, Great Hunter, Circular Quay, Any Given Saturday, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Dominican, Scat Daddy, take your pick. You could even make a case for Sam P., Zanjero, Stormello, or Tiago at the odds they figure to offer. Back to my original point, i think perhaps the most value will be found on Great Hunter. I think he's a primary contender, i can't rank him lower than maybe 4th. And he figures well below 4th choice in the wagering, it would appear. As for his workouts, i might point out he's never been a stellar workhorse. Not a bad one or anything, just not great. Something to keep in mind.

Kevin said...

Am I reading too much into these works or does it seem that O'Neill may be prepping LIQUIDITY and COBALT BLUE to bust from the gate and create a livelier pace than expected to possibly set things up for his late running GREAT HUNTER? With not much early speed in the Derby, he could use one or both of those runners to force others to race closer to the pace than they want.

alan said...

I don't think Merv would appreciate seeing Cobalt Blue used as a rabbit, but he's probably so clueless he wouldn't even realize. As for Great Hunter, I don't at all think he ran poorly in the Blue Grass. I just don't think that his mere two preps, with six weeks between them, and with the weird pace of the race, will set him up to run big in the Derby.

jeff said...

I agree with Walter that there's value to be had here, and right now I'm looking to find mine with Circular Quay. I like the strong effort in the La. Derby where the pace was strong, I like the way he's training, and I like that he ran well over the Churchill track as a 2-yr. old. My main concern was the layoff, but as he-who-comments-on-comments noted, his layoff may not be as much of a concern given his trainer. The other concern is whether he'll be able to pick his way through the crowd as he rallies from the rear; I've just gotta hope this is a big week for coming from behind, a sentiment that I'm sure Alan shares, at least in part.

Walter said...

tjwocdI think Kevin may be onto something with regard to Cobalt Blue (not so much Liquidity). O'Niel is no dummy, and must realize that Cobalt Blue has little or no chance. So it would probably be to his benefit to have Cobalt Blue doing a little rabbit work. There's not a ton of pace in here (it strikes me as moderate), and i'm sure the last thing O'Neill wants for Great Hunter is a replay of the Blue Grass. On the other hand though, if he harbors any illusion about Liquidity winning the race, he'll want the pace as slow as possible. Not much question Great Hunter represents his best chance, but who knows how that guy thinks. With regard to Cobalt, he's not a bad horse. And he's not necessarily a front-runner either. He just happened to catch a short field with very little speed in the San Felipe, plus he had drawn the rail. So they sent him. He's fully capable of laying off the pace, if that's that they choose to do. I just think he's one of those California horses who can't handle a different surface. Really no other explanation for his total flop at Hawthorne. He's a much better horse than that, and he would appear to be healthy.