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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Saturday Morning Notes - Feb 2

- Wincat is listed as the 9-5 favorite in today's Swale off his dazzling debut at Philly Park for West Point and Kiaran McLaughlin, but faces some more experienced opponents here. I've been trying to stick to this rule of not betting maiden graduates against winners at short prices (thanks to our KISS reader there), and this certainly falls into that category. No handicapping "rule" is 100% airtight, but this one has the kind of logic behind it that, even if it goes wrong, one can easily shrug it off and move on. Wincat loped away that day with an uncontested lead against a maiden field of undetermined merit. If he wins the Swale, we'll give him his props, but I think there will be value elsewhere.

I'll take a shot with St. Joe, 6-1 in the morning line, cutting back to a distance he seems to prefer. His graduation race at Keeneland was a good one, as he recovered from a horrible start before brushing past the bulky field on the backstretch and opening up an insurmountable lead. Four horses from that race came back to win their next, including Racecar Rhapsody, who then went on to be third in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and a close 4th in the Delta Jackpot. St. Joe's next effort was a game third in the one mile Iroquois on natural dirt at Churchill, behind Court Vision, and ahead of 4th place finisher Sok Sok, who then won the Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds with a 109 Beyer. Eibar Coa rides St. Joe for trainer Darrin Miller.

Only five three-year olds are scheduled to line up for the Bob Lewis at Santa Anita, with a couple of nice looking maiden graduates in morning line favorite Crown of Thorns and the highly-regarded Coast Guard. Walter sent a note to take a look at Reflect Times. For those of you who like late closers (like me), this one definitely merits a look. He was absolutely nowhere in each of his two starts and made up tons of ground to win both. He scooted past Gayego late in his last effort, and that one returned to win the San Pedro with a 101 Beyer. Here, he tries two turns for the first time, and is hardly guaranteed the kind of fast pace that set up his last win. But if he can prove that he can stretch out here, this Japanese-bred son of French Deputy, out of a Seeking the Gold mare, is the kind of horse that can get people all riled up about the Derby, especially coming out of the John Sherriffs barn.