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Monday, April 15, 2013

A Happy Blue Grass Result

I'd mentioned on more than just a couple occasions how I thought that stakes run on synthetic are meaningless as Derby preps and shouldn't count as qualifying races.  So maybe I should eat those words before writing about how very pleased I am with the result of the Blue Grass, propelling Palace Malice and Java's War to the big race as it did.  Doesn't change my opinion in principle with respect to strictly synth/turf horses that qualify by winning those races.  However, in this case we have two horses that have shown ability on the dirt using a synth race to get in.  So, in this case, I was wrong in calling it meaningless as a prep, as both horses will likely be a factor for my approach to the race, though in completely opposite ways.

Palace Malice was my pick in the Louisiana Derby and was traveling quite well when he ran into the thicket of traffic that completely doomed his chances.  So, his second place finish in the Blue Grass not only earns him the points he needs, but gave him a useful race from which he should benefit....if, that is, three weeks isn't too short a turnaround for him.  He didn't run that fast according to Beyer, earning a figure of 89, if Beyer figures on the synth really mean anything in this context.  Have to say I'm highly impressed that he ran so well - wasn't around for the race, but never would have bet him at those odds.  Just don't think that turf/synth is going to be his best game.  And I'd love to see a horse with - gasp - four races this year including one three weeks out win this thing.  Maybe would serve to help change the current less is more mindset.  So, this is a horse I'll definitely be looking forward to seeing how his works shape up as we approach Derby day.

Also glad to see Java's War win as he did.  Just the kind of deep closer that the betting public usually loves.  Man, that 14th-to-1st running line is sure gonna look tempting as he stretches out to a mile and a quarter.  However, as opposed to Palace Malice, I'm not at all convinced that dirt will turn out to be his preferred surface as opposed to turf/synth.  Sure, he also closed impressively in the Tampa Bay when he came on for second to Verrazano.  However, that surface can be a quirky one, and my experience is that horses running well there seem to fare OK on the Keeneland Poly.  His other dirt race, at Churchill in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club, is inconclusive; an even 6th at a flat one-turn mile.  I think his pedigree leans towards grass.  He's a son of War Pass, out of a mare by Rainbow Quest, a daughter of the French and UK champ Blushing Groom (to whom he's inbred 4x3), who is a half to the grass champ Fiji and the French Group winner Capri.

This is not to say of course that Java's War can't win if he gets a clear path.  But the point is that he indeed will need a clear path, especially give his tendency to dawdle at the start; and will require everything to go his way in the 20 horse field to get one.  Definitely the type who I think will be overbet in relation to his chances, perhaps grossly so, and I will be excluding him from the top spot on my tickets.

9 Comments:

August Song said...

If you didn't see the race Alan, may I suggest that you watch it. And even though Gomez has opted to ride Vyjack after he bled but, then it was mucus, and then he was just going to be put on some antibiotics for a just a few days, (and none of that fluxinin which would have caused the stewards not to know what to do, the same as last time), and now he's rehabing in a hyperbaric chamber with regular visits from Rudy; so, as a result, Mike Smith gets the mount on Palace Malice, who was the better horse on Saturday. He was making his first start on Keeneland's synthetic. Pay attention to Gomez's stretch drive. When he really started to set him down to overtake Rydilluc in the middle of the stretch, Palace Malice ended up brushing with that opponent, and changed back to his wrong lead. Gomez shook Palace Malice up again, and he switched back to his correct lead. But, the damage was done. He lost timing and momentum, and as a result, the race.

Should get some decent odds next month, on A SURFACE he's more familiar with and better acclimated to.

Alan Mann said...

Thanks for the headsup....I did see that he changed leads back and forth (not because I'm an eagle eye at those things; someone pointed out the switch to the left lead on TVG, and I did notice that he switched back late). I watched the headon view on the Keeneland site. Doesn't look like they ever brushed, think Palace Malice was being a little green. Or, maybe he was tired as the guy on TVG - I think it was Amoss - suggested. That wouldn't be surprising considering it was his first race since Feb that he was actually able to do some running. Should do him some good.

Figless said...

Realize you have been on Palice for awhile, good call, contender, but I believe this is Orb's race to lose. Has the style, experience in traffic, and pedigree to get this done for Janney, Phipps, and Shug.

Alan Mann said...

Figless, agree that Orb is the most likely winner at this stage. Not necessarily interested in that however in this race, need to see the tote.

kyle said...

Don't follow your general thinking on the validity of synthetic form as it relates to The Derby. Hard Spun, Mine That Bird, Pioneer of the Nile (or however it was spelled), Animal Kingdom...they shouldn't have qualified for The Derby? Personally, I think it's Ozone Park earth that seems to produce the most frauds.

Figless said...

Alan, I will take 5-1 on Orb, but I really am rooting for the connections as well, these guys have done it the right way for a long time and are deserving of a victory.

Figless said...

Kyle, I agree, need to judge each horse on their own merits, but I think Alan is pointing out the lack of true dirt form for some of these making them automatic throw outs.

Anonymous said...

Bad hockey night last night, so looking to take a break and spend some time on this stuff tonight. Very little love for Goldencents, including among cappers I respect, and I'm not sure exactly why. Is it skepticism about getting the 1 1/4? A feeling he peaked in the SA Derby? A belief that his BSF isn't legit for some reason? Because from what I've seen, he and Flashback battled through quick fractions in the San Felipe and it took a toll; Flashback held on a bit better, but neither completely collapsed. Predictably they both rated in the SA Derby, and with good results: both were poised at top of the stretch, and Goldencents ran on for a 105. Maybe the closing fraction was somewhat slow, but the earlier fractions were much quicker than, say, for the Wood, which I believe provides a much more useful prep for the Derby. We haven't seen the Churchill works yet or the posts, but preliminarily, not a lot of quality speed in this Derby, so Goldencents might get a decent stalking spot close up, and make a move before the closers have a chance to kick in. And with that 105 from the SA Derby, there's reason to believe he may be faster than most of this field...or is that somehow illusory?

August Song said...

And referring to horses that had "lead changing issues," nothing could exemplify that better than this article, Alan. But, I'm much more willing to chalk up the Palace Malice problem to the surface, and where he was positioned throughout the race. The fact Gomez jettisons from the mount for the Derby, means he stays less likely regarded, which is all good.

http://www.followhorseracing.com/en/the-latest/blogs/2013/04/16/alydar-destined-for-greatness/