- Four winners for Pletcher at Keeneland on Saturday. In the third, Royal Card tossed John Velazquez in the post parade and galloped away. An outrider nabbed the two-year old filly, making her racing debut, along the outer rail about a furlong later according to the crew on TVG, and later confirmed by the chart caller...unless of course he just got that information from TVG. Good job by the network here, finding a replay angle showing Johnny V bailing out (I guess they must still have some of those 24 cameras hanging around), and Jill Byrne interviewing an unperturbed Toddster, his manners, suit, and hair all unruffled by the incident. All agreed that the filly would be fine to start; and the bettors were similarly undaunted, sending her off as the 2-1 second choice.
Royal Card won despite the pre-race adventure and a wide trip. She is, as far as I can tell, the first winner for the rookie sire Chapel Royal, a son of Montbrook standing for Coolmore for $10K a pop. Chapel Royal was a precocious sort himself, taking the early season Flash Stakes at Belmont, as well as the Sanford on a muddy track at Saratoga. He ran third in the Juvenile, and returned to run out of the money in two starts at three. His two-year olds have been pretty well received this year, bringing an average of almost $122,000, well above his fee.
As noted on the Coolmore website, this stallion has a most unusual pedigree by today's commercial standards:
Chapel Royal is from the BUCKPASSER sire line and his dam is by a son of DAMASCUS. He has a valuable pedigree in that it is free of NORTHERN DANCER, RAISE A NATIVE, MR. PROSPECTOR, HAIL TO REASON, TURN-TO, IN REALITY, RIBOT, BOLD RULER and SEATTLE SLEW. In other words, he is an outcross for most of the fashionable sire lines in America today.In the 4th, Pletcher's Awesome Ashley was all out late trying to catch favored Drop A Line. The tight finish made for one of those very rare races when the slow-motion replays did not provide a definitive answer as to who had won. After having exhausted all of their replay angles, TVG simply cut to a shot of the tote board. And as the PHOTO sign blinked off and we stared at the still-blank board for the imminent result, it brought back a lot of memories. Back when there were no replays until after the race was official, we all spent a lot of agonizing minutes staring at the infield tote, trying to will the correct number or numbers to be listed on top. In this case, it was a dead heat, but good enough for Pletcher's second winner of the day.
In the 5th, Jumpin Charlie shipped in for the stable from Santa Anita, and I searched for a horse to bet against him as the 7-5 favorite; fortunately, I ended up passing, as he wore down Ndongo to get up late.
Finally, in the Lexington, Behindatthebar became the third Pletcher horse to crack the Derby top 20 in graded earnings. The Toddster said afterwards however that this son of Forest Wildcat was doubtful for the big race. "I don't think it's a distance issue....It's a question of whether he's a dirt horse or synthetic horse." [Associated Press] I find that to be kind of a weird statement for him to make. If the big question concerns the question of dirt vs synthetics, then Pletcher wouldn't be entering Cowboy Cal and, arguably, Monba in the Derby either.
Behindatthebar benefited from a lightning early pace set by Samba Rooster - 22.78 and 45.21, wow. However, that colt held on for second at 17-1, and Riley Tucker maintained his third position throughout the race. I'm not sure if the rest of the field, including favored Atoned, the disappointing Tomcito, and Salute the Sarge, were just spinning their wheels, or if the result was a confirmation of a main track that seems to be playing kinder to speed.
- During the post parade on TVG for the 7th race, Todd Schrrmmppff noted that trainer Tom Amoss, his occasional colleague on The Works, had been very quiet during the last few days about Ride Em Cowgirl, making her first start since October. He noted that Amoss' horses usually run well when he doesn't hear from him. Sounded like inside information, and as it turned out, I should have gone to the bank with it. Ride Em Cowgirl looked like a winner most every step of the way and paid $16. So keep that in mind the next time you hear the boys on TVG talk about Amoss being tight-lipped.