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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Saturday Stakes

It was interesting to hear the Toddster on TVG before the Tampa Bay Derby explain that he planned a third prep before the Derby for Brethren because his Sam F. Davis effort was too easy. I suspect that the same logic will not apply to Uncle Mo despite the juvenile champ's ridiculously easy victory at Gulfstream on Saturday. Sure, he came home in 22.87 seconds with only the slightest of urging, and how often do you ever see a final fraction like that in a mile race under any circumstance? But he did after all lope through the first quarter in an effortless 25.53, and earned a pedestrian Beyer of 89.

Matt Carrothers tried to make a case that the race was useful because Uncle Mo got some pressure from Rattlesnake Bridge. But Vic Stauffer countered, correctly in my view, that it was more akin to a staged workout with a hapless stablemate applying token pressure before the subject worker sprints away. Pletcher's colt doesn't figure to get too much more of a test in the Wood either. But I guess he and owner Mike Repole don't feel that their colt needs to face a more sizeable field (as they might have had they elected to run at Tampa), get some dirt in the face, or, if it's even possible given his apparent talent level, find himself in a position of adversity he'd need to overcome. They just want to keep him sound and fit.

That could be just fine. Or, if he finds himself breaking from post 18, slammed into by some unworthy contestant at the start, wide on the turn trying to catch up, needing to thread through some tight spots down the backside, and having to run down a determined opponent benefiting from a Borel trip in the final sixteenth, then his preparation could prove to have been meaningless and he could find himself up the track, no matter how much more talented he may be. Up to you if you want to take even money on that proposition.

Brethren found himself wide into the first turn, and Ramon Dominguez chose to forge on instead of seeking to conserve some energy for later on. I thought the rider seemed a bit cocky looking behind him to the inside even as Crimson Knight hounded him relentlessly. So sure, he tired at the end, but the race likely served him well. Watch Me Go ($89.40) was only five lengths back of Brethren in the Davis in his first two-turn effort, so a red-boarder could say he was way overlaid here. But 86-1 Crimson Knight completing the $2200 exacta off a 16K claim, are you kidding me?

Suncoast Stakes winner Wyomia ($15.20) is a pedigree paradox; half sister to G1 turf winner Red Giant, and from a distaff family teeming with Grade or Group 1 grass winners (Ciro, Bosra Sham, Hector Protector, Internallyflawless, California Memory, Passinetti, Shanghai, Act One), this daughter of Vindication is out of the money in two turf tries, and now three-for-three on synth and dirt.

Another big upset took place at Santa Anita in the G1 Santa Margarita, which was marred by the career-ending (though thankfully not fatal) injury to Always A Princess. Kinda hard to make even a retrospective case for Miss Match ($92.40); best I can say is that she had won her last two races around two turns, both allowance races, one at Saratoga (also with Garrett Gomez), and most recently over the Tapeta at Golden Gate. Regarding this most recent mishap on the new dirt track, Jeff Scott noted last week in The Saratogian that the death toll has not received the same scrutiny as did the problems with the synthetic surface.

A rare story in Daily Racing Form on March 2 reported that there had been 11 fatalities (five during racing, six during training) on the new surface since the current meet began on Dec. 26.
By way of comparison, there were only two racing fatalities during the entire 2009-10 season at Santa Anita (December to April), the last meet run on a synthetic surface.
So there. I was able to find only Scott's story with an extensive Google search. (Here's the Form's story.)

If the fractions set by Always A Princess (23.38, 46.39, 1:09.53) were rapid, as reported by Bloodhorse, then what term would you use to describe the fractions in the San Felipe, at a mile and a sixteenth, just a half furlong shorter? The two overbet maiden graduates, Albergatti and Runflatout (the latter sent off at an absurd 5-2) blazed their way to a half in 44.58, and predictably ran 9-10 in the field of ten. Jockey Alonso Quinonez moved with Premier Pegasus ($16.60) at the right time to take over and draw away to win easily (I did give him a good mention in my San Felipe post).

And finally, back to Gulfstream, Tackleberry did it again, his third big stakes win in a row, and again somewhat ignored by the bettors ($11 as the 4th choice...what the fascination with Rule is, I can't really say). The gelded son of Montbrook hung on tenaciously after being pressed throughout; second and third quarters of 23 and 23.2.
"They let him go 24 and change and think he's going to stop," said [owner-trainer Luis] Olivares. "I knew I had them at the top of the stretch. They were never going to go by him. He's a fighter. Not an easy horse to beat."

Olivares said the $1 million Charles Town Classic on April 16 might be next for Tackleberry, who Olivares called the best horse in the east. [DRF]
Great story here; too bad it's largely ignored due to the silly single-minded obsession on a race still eight weeks away.


Anonymous said...

Took the filly field for 2k (9-1?) and the Derby Field for 1k @ 7/2. Also bet $100 on Sway Away after begging myself not to.


Anonymous said...

That's filly field for $200 BTW, sorry, lol.

Anonymous said...

Wish I could have come up with Viable($28.20) in Saturday's 7th at Aqueduct. The rest of the Pk 4 & Pk 6 were pretty much "gimmes" but still paid off very well.


Figless said...

Do not want to hear Pletcher or Repole complaining about their inevitable rough trip or anything else after they lose the Derby.

And I hope they lose, because the more successful these lightly raced horses are in the Derby the less interesting the Derby prep season will become.

Oh yeah, and I bet two longshots in the first Derby futures pool also :)

With Brethrens debacle and Dialed In's less than stellar performance those bets are starting to look a little better.

Figless said...

Dirty, I love your Filly Field bet, btw, why the heck not?

El Angelo said...

There were some interesting horses at square prices in Pool 2. I'm not sure I'd pick any of them now, but Mucho Macho Man at 29-1, Silver Medallion at 31-1 and even Sweet Ducky at 75-1 struck me as decent plays. Certainly better than taking 3-1 on Uncle Mo. Why would you take that price, since even if he romps in the Wood he'll be no lower than 8-5 on Derby Day?

Anonymous said...

Brethren was completely exposed. No excuse. He desperately needed a forward move in this race and he didn't get one. The guy who posted here after his last race was right -- he's not a contender.

I'm squarely against Uncle Mo. It was a useless prep and I don't like his action at all. He has what appears to me to be a jumpy stride. Not smooth at all. I suspect he'll get hurt before the big day, but either way I can't see how going 25/49 on the lead does anything to prepare him for Louisville.

Premier Pegasus on the other hand made just the type of move you like to see. First time around two turns and he exploded. Looks like a serious contender from here. Bred top and bottom to get 10 panels. -jp

alan said...

>>He has what appears to me to be a jumpy stride. Not smooth at all.

jp - I'm hardly an expert on stuff like that, but I definitely noticed that, particularly when they were going down the backstretch.

Brian Appleton said...

Uncle Mo really didn't get anything out of his win but I'm still inclined to think he is the best of this crop. It was just as easy as it should have been for him and his gallop out was fantastic!
This is just my observation but I noticed the same thing with his stride, even in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile a little bit. It could be that his stride is so long that he keeps reaching out for more ground when he's held back like Velazquez had him. It still appears smooth to me and he doesn't seem to pound the ground, I think he just lifts his front legs very high when he extends his stride and brings them back down very quickly.

Premier Pegasus was the most impressive runner of the weekend. Can't wait to see him in the Santa Anita Derby!

I'm loving Tackleberry, his effort Saturday was so game and tough! He's off to a powerful start this year.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Tackleberry is ballsy. 9-2 was a gift. -jp

Figless said...

I hope Uncle Mo fares better than the last few Derby candidates have post Wood.

Unfair to blame the surface I guess but the last couple of winners have never won, or run, again. Not sure it would be my prep of preference if I were lucky enough to own a candidate.