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.So there. I was able to find only Scott's story with an extensive Google search. (Here's the Form's story.)
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.
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."Great story here; too bad it's largely ignored due to the silly single-minded obsession on a race still eight weeks away.
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]