- It's a work/travel day for me today, as the Head Chef and I, with two kids happily in tow, are heading down to my parents' place in Longboat Key, FL this evening for a long holiday weekend. So posting today will be light and I'll have to keep it brief, but I'll be checking in from sunny Florida starting on Saturday if you don't hear from me again today.
I guess that Street Sense and Any Given Saturday weren't enough to bring graded stakes status to the Sam F Davis at Tampa Bay. [Oops. That was the Tampa Bay Derby; thanks to reader John for the correction.] Saturday's edition doesn't have quite as compelling a matchup, with Mott's Z Humor as the clear 9-5 favorite in the morning line. It's his first race since his dead heat win in the Delta Downs Jackpot; he's the first of the three horses involved in the controversial finish to run back. Co-winner Turf War is scheduled to run in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Monday. Third place finisher Golden Yank, the owners of whom filed a lawsuit regarding the stewards' lack of action, is also at Oaklawn, pointing to the Rebel next month. No word on the resolution of that suit.
But the highlight of the card as far as I'm concerned is the G3 Endeavor, on the grass for older fillies and mares. Dreaming of Anna is scheduled to make her four-year old debut; her first effort since falling just short in the G1 QEII Cup at Keeneland in October. However, she's not definite according to trainer Wayne Catalano:
"We entered her, and we're going to take a look at the race, at the field, and also who we're going to be able to get to ride her before we make a final decision." [DRF]When he sees the entries, he may decide to stay at Gulfstream. Take the Ribbon, now in the care of Barclay Tagg, returns after an abbreviated four-year old campaign which included a graded win at Churchill; Christophe Clement's consistent purse-getter Meribel breaks from the outside.
But of most interest to me is Lear's Princess, making her first start since finishing far back as the favorite in the sloppy Distaff at Monmouth. Last year, I maintained that the then three-year old West Point filly was better on the grass even as she racked up a win and two very close seconds in Grade 1 dirt races. So, here's a chance to prove that I'm right (or wrong). She is the 5-2 morning line choice, so here's hoping that Dreaming of Anna stays in to keep the odds respectable.
- We've mentioned the fact that the benchmarks clause in the franchise agreement seems vague and toothless. So it's understandable that Nick Kling reports that Duncker seemed unconcerned.
"The benchmarks require our best effort to meet them," he said. [Troy Record]Considering that "best efforts" clause, the fact that any shortfall would have to be deemed "material," and that NYRA would have the opportunity to cure, the whole benchmarks idea seems virtually meaningless to me. And, from the sound of it, to Duncker too.