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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Good Spot for Highland Cat

- Highland Cat is listed at 10-1 in the 7th on Thursday, and I have to say I think he's a good bet at odds like that. I think I've been pretty objective about his chances; and in fact, I didn't like him the only time he won. I owe Richie Munk breakfast at Saratoga because of that.

As soon as he came out of the gate in his last race, you could see that Highland Cat was far happier running on the grass. He broke well, showed a little tactical speed in getting position from the nine post, tracked the pace intently, and came on strong in the final sixteenth. He ran the final quarter in a respectable 24 3/5, while saving ground on the final turn. Note that he drilled a solid five furlongs exactly a week before the race, the same workout pattern Bill Turner employed last time. There are a couple of potentially formidable foes here, but he has a good post and I think that he's going to run well.

Exton is the 2-1 morning line favorite for Bill Mott and the obvious main threat. He's dropping from allowance company, where he ran a solid second two races back against a pretty good field; winner Loconia has a couple of near misses against better, and 4th place finisher Dancing Forever won earlier this month. If Exton runs back to that race, I think he'll be tough to beat. His last race was kind of an odd effort as the 5-2 second choice. He seemed to run in fits and starts, looked like he might rally but seemed to lose interest at the end. Mott doesn't seem to run horses for a tag first time in order to cash a ticket - he's 0-for-8 doing so over the last two years; 2 for 22 for the last three. So perhaps the drop is as suspicious as it probably needs to be in order for Highland Cat to beat him.

The other horse I'm a-scared of is John's Song. Phil Serpe dropped him in class a couple of times in seeking his level, and found it in a 35K maiden claimer. He won under a rousing ride by Cornelio Velasquez, who rides him back here, in a final quarter of 22 3/5 at Gulfstream. Trainer Phil Serpe is off to a quick start with two winners and a second in five tries.

Gift of Valor ran third, a length behind Highland Cat in his last. He broke poorly and came from last with a sweeping move and covered significantly more ground than did Highland Cat. However, as they approached the wire, he wasn't really gaining on Highland Cat, and I don't think he ever would have passed him. Gift of Valor is a bit of a plodder to be sure. And though he's improved a bit with Alan Garcia, I don't think he'll be better than third.

Lunenburg wired an entry level allowance field at Tampa when he walked to the half in 50 2/5. There's not much speed inside but this horse isn't really that quick either, and he beat a bad field. It's actually hard to see who the speed will be in this race, so he could perhaps clear the field, but I don't see him hanging on.

So that's it; I think this is a nice spot for Highland Cat in an important race in terms of determining his near-term future. If he proves to be not competitive in this class - bottom basement for non-NY bred grass races - the partnership has made known its intentions to send him somewhere where he will be, possibly Colonial Downs.

6 Comments:

Walter said...

Good luck, Alan...

Handride said...

What is this a Giant's blog now, nice color change, i like the peaceful blue. Good luck w/ the cat.

rototheg said...

Good luck.

What about the #1 in race 8? He's the one named "Thanks Dubya." Is that name sincere or sarcastic?

Anonymous said...

Exton(6) is the horse to beat, but Mott's poor record with this move and the horses very poor finish in the last (not travelling real well) convinces me to take a chance and toss. Bad favorite.

If HC(#3) breaks alertly should work out a perfect trip behind the Tampa alleged speed. The choice.

Alan G is riding great right now so Gift of Valor(5) must be respected and included on any ticket.

Mixed feeling on J's Song(8), usually maiden claiming winners are automatic throw out's, but your HC made the jump and Serpe is hot. Going to stick to my guns and toss.

Lunenberg(10) must stay on the ticket. The Tampa turf circuit is much improved and they have faired well in the claiming ranks here the last couple of season. As potentially lone speed this guy stays on the ticket.

Exalted Cat(2) like to run third once in a while, may work out a trip from inside post, using underneath.

3-5-10 box
3,5/2,5,10/2,5,10

Good luck Alan, hopefully Martin can work out a trip and we will see you on TV!

Mr. Ed

alan said...

>>What about the #1 in race 8? He's the one named "Thanks Dubya." Is that name sincere or sarcastic?

He's by Is It True, out of Scandals! So I'm guessing it's most definitely sarcastic!!

Thanks everyone for the well-wishes

Anonymous said...

ran even, Colonial downs here we come!!