- I mentioned that Primal Peak, one of the three new horses in my powerful stable, is running for an outsized purse + PA-bred bonus at Philly Park on Saturday, in the 9th race. And actually, to my Philly-area LATG contingent, I would love to go, and probably would if not for a family obligation that day (which may also cause me to miss watching the Florida races live). The last time I was at that track, it was called Keystone!
One thing that trainer Keith Lebarron noticed when he got Primal Peak into the barn after he was claimed by Kasey K Racing Stable on Dec 30 was that the horse was outfitted in turf shoes despite running on the main track. Lebarron changed that, and the horse showed immediate improvement in his next start, rallying for 5th after being raised in class, and improving his Beyer by 27 points. His subsequent start was a winning one, dropped back into claimers.
Now, he's moving back up to the same allowance class as two races back. I imagine that the favorite will be Casual, coming off a gaudy fig against cheaper for Scott Lake. Two others are coming off faster races than Primal Peak; OK Nothanksforaskn and Talkforfree (who Primal Peak defeated in his last race). The latter in particular looks like a horse on the upswing after a recent claim. However, Primal Peak is reported to be doing quite well, and has a change of equipment that you won't see in the Form. The horse has had a problem on the turn, seeming to lose focus as he turned his head outward. Lebarron wanted to add blinkers for Saturday, but you're not allowed to change equipment following a win unless granted specific permission from the stewards. Did you know that? Always learning something new in this game...
So instead, Lebarron changed the horse's bit, thinking that perhaps the old one was bothering him; and it's reported that he handled the turn better the last time he breezed. So, there you have it. Check out the pp's; he definitely would have to move up Beyer-wise to win this race, but I think that a piece of the purse, at the least, seems within his grasp.
- Thanks to Glimmerglass for tracking down the morning line for the Florida Derby. There will certainly be value to be found in this wide open affair; it has to be one of the better betting Derby preps of recent years. Someone speculated that Big Brown would be higher than his 3-1 morning line, but I'm not sure I agree. Bandwagon/hype horses such as he are often subject to being drastically underlaid, and I don't know that the post will detract that many bettors. I wouldn't be at all shocked to see him go off at 2-1 or even less. Amongst the horses that drew inside, Fierce Wind seems an obvious contender at 6-1, and 12-1 on Smooth Air doesn't look too bad either considering that he was only 1 1/4 behind Zito's colt at Tampa, eh?
- Dogwood will separate their two Derby hopefuls; Atoned is headed to the Illinois Derby, while Blackberry Road will be reunited with Calvin Borel in the Arkansas Derby on April 12. Big day scheduled for Oaklawn the weekend before too, with Ginger Punch and Hystericalady slated to face off in the Apple Blossom, and check out this possible field:
The $ 500, 000 Grade II Oaklawn Handicap on April 5 is expected to have a slew of Grade I winners with Brass Hat, Buzzards Bay, Circular Quay, Encaustic, Fairbanks, Going Ballistic, Heatseeker, Jonesboro, Reporting For Duty and Tiago among the expected starters.. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]I'll be quite interested in seeing if Circular Quay can duplicate his change-of-tactics win at Fair Grounds; if so, he puts a whole different spin on the handicap-divison-other-than-Curlin.
- Interesting article in the Times today on Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. Seems as if the nation's second elected black governor is currently being defined by the recent defeat in the state House of his proposal to create three resort casinos.
He blames Speaker [Sal] DiMasi [a fellow Democrat, by the way], a veteran of Beacon Hill who embraces old-school ways of doing business and holds far more sway than the governor over his members. Mr. Patrick believes his casino bill could have passed if Mr. DiMasi, who said gambling would be a scourge on the state, had not pressured lawmakers to oppose it.Part of the pressure put on lawmakers by DiMasi was committee chairmanships granted to six members who originally supported the casino bill, but then either voted against it or abstained. By elevating the lawmakers to leadership positions, DiMasi virtually guaranteed they would back his position because chairmen rarely vote against the speaker. [Boston Herald]
“It’s part of what we ran against, and it needs to be called out,” Mr. Patrick said in an interview last week on the day before the House overwhelmingly killed the bill. “We’re going to keep working on it until we get a Democratic process that’s functioning.” [NY Times]
In addition, the governor accused DiMasi of breaking a promise to allow an open floor debate that could have tweaked the proposal to satisfy critics.
Next up in the state is a proposal that would grant slots to each of the state's four racetracks (under Patrick's bill, tracks would have had to compete for the licenses).