- I guess it wouldn't have killed me to have a few bucks on Highland Cat. But after awhile, the few dollars add up, and I passed, even though I stopped to make a deposit in my OTB account before we left just in case of occasions like that, and despite his going back to turf. I've always felt that he prefers the surface; yet his o-for-nine record made him hard to back with confidence.
However, the price was right at 28-1, and I know at least one person who had him.
Highland Cat won a relatively paltry $7500 in the $12,500 claimer for non winners of three. By comparison, a 15K for non-winners of two at Philly Park on Saturday carried a purse of $23,000. The purses are not so hot at Gulfstream, where the VLT's aren't doing their job. And the racing is just not of the quality that we saw just a few years (or even less) ago. In fact, I'd venture to say that the racing there kinda sucks. I don't think that horses the caliber of Highland Cat (no offense to the gray cutie) would have been running in the 6th race there on a Saturday five or ten years ago. And the 7th wasn't much better.
The 8th was the Hallandale Beach though, and that was quite a nice effort by Why Tonto in defeating his heavily favored stablemate Cowboy Cal as the classic "other Pletcher" winner. That gave the Toddster the 1-2 finishers, but I don't think it was in the order he'd preferred. In fact, he couldn't even bring himself to mention the winner's name.
"I was a little disappointed....The other horse has been training well, and I wasn't surprised he did as well as he did," he said. [Miami Herald]Pletcher said that Cowboy Cal was rank and blew the turns. But Why Tonto was on his heels throughout and never let him settle, pushing him through fast fractions - quarter splits of 22.85, 23.27, and 23.54 as he went 1:09.66 to three-quarters - before surging by late for the upset win. Why Tonto had shown steady improvement since switching to grass, earning higher Beyers in each of his turf starts, and looks like a nice prospect. Cowboy Cal didn't do anything to disgrace himself, and I imagine he'll remain on the Derby trail, even though his one dirt race was poor.
Why Tonto is by Indian Charlie, out of a Northern Baby mare; and he descends from the distaff family of Rockhill Native, the popular 1979 champion juvenile (the dam of Rockhill Native is the 3rd dam of Why Tonto).
The Endeavor at Tampa was a fantastic finish, and I really thought that Lear's Princess got the nod watching it the first time. But even though Dreaming of Anna managed to somehow hang on, Lear's Princess clearly loves the grass, and I see the F&M Turf in her future. This must have been one of those hundreds of new BC Challenge races, right? Oh, not yet? Well, doesn't matter. Dreaming of Anna set a moderate pace, going 1:13.04 to the three-quarters, slower than the maiden race that followed the Sam F Davis. That allowed her to sprint home in splits of 23.32 and 6.02. Yet, West Point Thoroughbred's daughter of Lear Fan came flying home and fell just a jump short. (Meribel didn't do too badly either closing for third).
And speaking of the Sam F Davis, the Zito Derby buzz is in full effect after Fierce Wind held on in a wild affair, making him unbeaten in three tries since stretching out to two turns. He came four wide with Cornelio Velasquez, and held on over Barclay Tagg's Big Truck, who was even wider as he rebounded from two disappointing efforts; remember that Tagg has spoken very highly of his NY-bred prospect. Favored Z Humor stalked a pace which came up slower than the filly stakes, the only other two-turn race on the dirt, and didn't seem to have much of an excuse for fading as he did. I suppose that may not bode well for Turf War in the Southwest on Monday. Fierce Wind is by Dixie Union, out of an AP Indy mare; and he's a full brother to Rebel Yeller, last year's Woodlawn winner.