bux bucks on the line at Parx Racing in the Pennsylvania Derby; with Friend Or Foe expected to scratch from the field of seven, and the local entrant Severe Weather appearing hopelessly overmatched (despite him being a clear hunch bet around here), it's a real shot for some nice though hardly overwhelming Grade 2 animals to pick up a big check for their connections. "It didn't look like it came up a real million-dollar race," noted Anthony Dutrow, explaining why he reversed course and entered A Little Warm (3-1).
I recall before the Travers that Dutrow wasn't particularly enthused about his son of Stormin Fever's chances. "Good means good, it doesn't mean a winner. I hope he's a winner," he remarked before the race. Here, while still being cautious, he definitely seems more optimistic.
"He's not a good enough horse to go out there and run the way he runs every time he runs. The Travers wasn't his day. He seems like he's very, very good now." [Philly Daily News]With John Velazquez having committed to Zito's Morning Line (9-2) when it appeared that A Little Warm would not run, Garrett Gomez is in for the ride. And Dutrow may not be that upset with that considering that Johnny V managed to get his colt hung out a solid four wide on the first turn despite breaking from the five hole with a long run to the turn. He was similarly wide turning for home and thus had every excuse for not firing in the lane; especially considering how tiring the Saratoga main track seemed to be in the route races late in the meet (as I discussed in this post). He also could have simply bounced after running two career best Beyers, and I look for him to bounce back strongly here. It is a concern that his close-to-the-pace running style mirrors that of First Dude (8-5), Exhi (5-2), and the aforementioned Morning Line, but seems like a good spot to just go with the horse who I think is best of an unproven lot.
- The claim box has seemed rather quiet at Belmont, but a couple of horses changed hands for a hefty 50K in Friday's second; including the winner, Ea ($12.20). Tom Albertrani may have tried to slip this one by first time for a tag, but he was taken by Rick Dutrow for Vincent Scuderi. Seems like a useful claim for Belmont and the mile distance at the Big A given this six-year old gelded son of Dynaformer's excellent record of 3-1-1 in one-turn routes; so could be a sharp claim here.
First-time starter Silver Horseshoe ($7.60) took the 4th for trainer Barclay Tagg and Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms. Tagg is off to a good start at this meeting with a record of 17-5-1-1. This is a three-year old daughter of the sophomore sire Value Plus out of an Old Trieste mare.
Bill Mott shortened Erma Lee to seven furlongs in the 9th, and that did the trick for this two-year old daughter of Stormy Atlantic from the distaff family of G1 winners Inside Information, Smuggler, and Educated Risk; and the PA Derby winner Gone Astray. It was the second winner of the day for the stable, which bookended the card with Midnight Mischief ($7.80) in the first; Mott is off to a blazing start here with a record of 12-5-0-2. [Updated: Actually, he's won his last four in a row.]
And, going back to Thursday, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the curious case of the first-time starter Pike Place. 20-1 in the morning line for trainer Frank Martin, who doesn't have a debut winner in at least five years, this son of Smarty Jones was inexplicably sent off at 3-1, and promptly ran dead last every step of the way. He even left our verbose chart-caller speechless; he could only muster a one-word description of trailed.