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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sprinting On

- Contessa gets 15 days for a positive of Lidocaine. In June, he was suspended for seven days for Phenylbutazone.

Big Truck finished third at 3-10 in Saturday's Sleepy Hollow, and in a slow race with a 27 second final quarter too. I wonder if that means anything regarding Tale of Ekati, considering that Tagg once said that Big Truck might be his best juvenile?

And Woodbine is the latest group to withdraw from Empire Racing. 'Tis but a scratch!

On to the Sprint. Remember, I'm just thinking out loud here. This is annually my least favorite race to handicap; this year, I'd just assume pass to be honest. I have no idea what to do with the freakish 124 Beyer earned at Saratoga by Midnight Lute. It just comes out of nowhere in the context of his past performances; his prior high was a 106. Someone knew he was feeling good because he was way live on the board; 6-1 morning line, he went off as the 5-2 second choice. There had been three sprints earlier in the card, and then four straight turf races. Both subsequent dirt races produced figs I found interesting - Midnight Lute's, and Lawyer Ron's 119 in the Woodward, two points higher than his record-shattering Whitney despite a timing two seconds slower.

[Update: Midnight Lute worked five furlongs in 57.60 at Santa Anita.]

The way I see it, the presence of Commentator pretty much eliminates the other speeds - Bordanaro, Talent Search, and anyone else foolish enough to try (as well as Commentator himself, who hasn't won in open company since his Whitney in 2005). Amongst those in the second flight should be Midnight Lute, as well as Greg's Gold (Lake George). He's versatile, fast, and has been worse than second in just four of 20 starts. And forget the 99 Beyer in his last when he was badly boxed through much of the stretch; he showed his class getting second when able to extract himself. For those concerned about the relatively short turnaround since that race, he worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:10.80 at Santa Anita on Friday. Trainer David Hofmans described the work as "incredible." [DRF]

Idiot Proof (Benchmark) was able to sit a bit off the pace in the Ancient Title. Though he was the beneficiary of Greg Gold's misfortune, still he bounced back from a poor race on the Del Mar Poly that I'm now willing to excuse. That would seem to set him up to a return of the form he displayed at Monmouth, when he got a 113 while zig-zagging through the stretch. But Clifford Sise Jr questioned Flores' rating tactics at Del Mar, saying: "We may have found another dimension, but we'd still rather use what his best weapon is, which is speed." Sounds like he might be involved in that early pace.

Smokey Stover (Put It Back) has a benefit of a race over the track, and earned a nice fig in an easy effort. He then shipped back to Bay Meadows and has been working lights out on the dirt track there, as he did before that Monmouth win. He wired the field that day, but he's really a stalker at heart. He's never been out of the money in 13 starts, but this will be his first Grade 1.

In Summation (Put It Back) is another obvious contender, and he beat Greg's Gold by the scantest of noses in the Bing Crosby after forcing him wide around the turn. In Summation has that good dirt form at the bottom of his pp's where many bettors won't see it; remember he won his first five starts on dirt at two. But I rate him a bit below Greg's Gold. He breezed easily, according to Jay Privman, on Sunday in a minute flat.

I don't like La Traviata (Johannesburg) in this spot. As talented as she is, she's a three-year old filly making her 4th start against a field of seasoned and consistent veterans. I'm going to discuss Kelly's Landing over at the BC blog, but I doubt I'll be betting him either.

I guess I'd have to say I'm leaning slightly towards Greg's Gold at this point, but that's just today..

1 Comment:

Nathan said...

I didn't care for La Traviata at all in this race either...and it seems Tabor and crew finally came to their senses. Even without a clear champion in the field, choosing to run a filly with 3 lifetime starts in a race as historically tough as the Breeder's Cup Sprint is ludicrous. I'm sure you've already seen at drf.com that her connections have opted for the F & M sprint. I think it's a great move and will make the newly created Filly and Mare Sprint a much more intriguing race.

I always love the brilliant, yet inexperienced horses (I had Curlin in the derby), so it will certainly be hard for me to take a stand against La Traviata facing fellow fillies. And damn her pp's sure are pretty.