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Monday, March 03, 2008

Excuse But No Excuse

- The Sham was a tremendous race, with Colonel John and El Gato Malo finishing furiously in deep stretch. The latter stayed up close to the slow pace, but not close enough, as the winner rumbled home from the six furlong marker in 23.92, and then 11.88 for the final eighth; that's 35.8 for the last three eighths if you don't feel like doing the math. El Gato Malo was in a tight spot turning for home as noted by Trevor Denman, and David Flores said that he lost important time.

"You just have to wait. You move soon, and you might get beat. So I just had to wait and wait and hopefully the others make a run early. But they waited until the quarter-pole, and it was hard for my horse to do it." [San Bernardino Sun]
However, it must be pointed out that Flores and the 7-10 favorite suddenly found themselves in the clear, three wide, turning for home. Not really evident from the replay whether Mike Smith, who kept the favorite boxed in aboard Reflect Times, drifted out to allow that move, or if Flores simply bulled out and made his own room. In any event though, El Gato Malo had every opportunity to catch Colonel John from that point on, and was simply outgamed. And one can never assume what will happen in a race once a horse draws on even terms with a rival in the stretch. So I'm going to say that the best horse won, and we'll give El Gato Malo a chance to turn the tables in the Santa Anita Derby.

If, that is, Colonel John (Tiznow) is ready for that race. Interesting comment here by his trainer Eoin Harty:
"All horses are individuals and he's an attractive horse, but he's a very light-framed horse....He puts a lot into his works and he puts a lot into his races. He'll lighten up considerably off this, so I don't think he would have handled three races prior to the Derby."
Therefore, assuming that the colt rebounds for the SA Derby, that would be his second and final prep for a possible Derby appearance.

- If you compare the fractions of the Sham with that of the Santa Anita Handicap, you'll see just how fast of a pace that Monterrey Jazz set in the latter (and, conversely, how slow the Sham was). Yes, the Big Cap is for older horses, but it was a mile and a quarter versus the nine furlong Sham; so you'd think those factors might even out a bit. But the Big Cap went 46.89 and 1:10.11, while Victory Pete crawled along at 50.04 and 1:14.35! So it was only a matter of time before Monterrey Jazz surrendered his 12 length lead, and little surprise that he staggered home 12th.
“They told me the harder you pull on him, the faster he is going to go,” [Russell Baze] added. “So I was trying to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't take no for an answer. He just went.” [San Diego Union-Tribune]
I'm not sure what Jerry Hollendorfer has done with Heatseeker that Frankel couldn't, but the horse has come a long way from his days of getting distracted in the stretch, and he's all business now. He was closer to the torrid pace than the 2nd through 5th place finishers, but had no problem holding off Go Between for his first Grade 1 win in Hollendorfer's first-ever Big Cap start.

- Quite a decent claim for trainer Mike Mitchell, who took Ever A Friend for $62,500 from the Clement barn two races back. Not only did he win his second race since then in as many tries - they're both stakes, and Saturday's was the G1 Kilroe Mile - the horse also successfully stretched out to a mile after racing exclusively at sprints. How does the trainer do it, some might want to know?

- And, as my regular readers know, I don't resort to crude profanity too much here. But I don't know what else to say other than that Daaher was shit in the Stymie at the Big A on Saturday. Bad job by the rider getting involved in a first quarter of 22.26; worse job by the horse fading meekly in the stretch and getting beat by two horses with ordinary form. The winner, Malibu Moonshine, may now be the futures book favorite for the BC Marathon.


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Sham, that's an awful lot of traffic to find yourself in with a five-horse field. I am just an amateur but I think Flores could have done better by taking an outside path, which El Gato Malo has liked in the past.
I think Gato lost all his momentum by being boxed in for so long.

Anonymous said...

I'd also cite for the Stymie the poor job by Jose Espinoza on Evening Attire. He was pushed way too much to stay close to the pace and was already being coaxed with the whip before the last turn. That is so not EA's style. The jock should've seen the suicide fractions up front, smiled ear to ear, and easily allowed for EA to do his typical closing run.

Yep that is my armchair jockey remark of the week.

Alan, you really should give a shout out to the 3-yr old filly "Absolutely Cindy" at Turfway in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes Saturday. Dead last and a brilliant run over the boys to the finish. She sprouted wings as Trevor would say which is her style as show in other efforts.