RSS Feed for this Blog

Friday, February 04, 2005

Back to Gulfstream...

Here's a look of the other three stakes coming up on Saturday at Gulfstream.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER Grade 3, 6 1/2 furlongs, 3 and up. MEDALLIST (Touch Gold) regained his form in the Kenny Noe Jr Handicap at Calder Dec 18, (113 Beyer) after three money-burning unplaced graded stakes efforts. Prior to those, he posted solid wins in the G2 Dwyer and the G3 Withers for trainer Allen Jerkins. He's won short and long around 1 turn, but even if he runs back to his aforementioned wins, he may have to contend with KELA (Numerous). The 7 year-old might have bounced off of his excellent very wide second to champ Speightstown in the BC Sprint when he ran 4th at Hollywood in the G3 VO Underwood; his 116 Beyer at Del Mar in his 7 furlong G2 stakes prep for the Sprint is best in this field, and he's the only Grade 1 winner. He's been off for two months, has worked steadly at Palm Meadows, and his trainer Mike Mitchell is hitting at 32% in that layoff category. FOREST DANGER (Forestry) hasn't started since May; the $900,000 juvenile posted 3 wins in 4 tries, including a 7 length win in the G3 Bay Shore at 7 furlongs (110 Beyer). His trainer Todd Pletcher is 31% in the over 180 days category, and he's smoked two sub-minute 5 furlong works in preparation for this.

THE HOLY BULL Grade 2. HIGH FLY (Atticus) tries two turns for the first time in this 1 1/8 mile test. He's 3 for 3, and earned a 100 Beyer, tons the best in this field, out of the chute at a mile here at the Gulf. If his pedigree is any indication, he'll have no problem whatsoever. His millionaire sire was a multiple graded stakes winner who set a world record at a mile and won and placed in stakes beyond that distance, including the G1 Oaklawn Handicap. His female family is that of Belmont winner Summing. An impressive win here would propel him into the thick of Derby talk, but he'll have to overcome the outside post. The owners of CLOSING ARGUMENT, (leading first crop sire of 2004 Successful Appeal) cleverly spotted their colt in rich restricted and slots-enriched races around the country, most recently the million dollar Delta Downs Jackpot in early December, where he finished second to Texcess, but increased his earnings to $421,984 with 2 wins in 5 starts. CRIMINAL MIND (Cryptoclearance) chased highly-regarded Harlington for second in an allowance in the slop at this distance here, and DEAREST MON (Maria's Mon) tries 2 turns after two improved wins at 7 furlongs.

The feature of this day of features is the Grade 1 DONN HANDICAP at 1 1/8 for 3 yo's and up. There are only five betting interests, so I don't know that they'll be a sufficient return for all the time one would have to invest trying to separate the two favorites, G1 Whitney Handicap winner ROSES IN MAY (Devil His Due), who won 7 of 11 and $1.8 million in 2004, and SAINT LIAM (Saint Ballado), who reversed form after moving to Dick Dutrow's barn late in '03 and went 5-2-2-1 in '04, closing the year with a win in the G2 Clark Handicap. Both had the pleasure of chasing Ghostzapper, though Saint Liam had a much closer look in the G1 Woodward than Roses did in the BC Classic. They've both shown that they can win off the bench, and that they can lead or sit close behind; if I had to guess, I'd say that Saint Liam will have the lead, and it's quite possible they'll run 1-2 in one order or another all the way around. But if the pace gets too hot, or if either are a little short, keep an eye on EDDINGTON (Unbridled), who looked professional and assured in his 4 year old debut at this distance, cruising to a nearly 9 length win and getting the last 3 furlongs in 36:4 with seemingly little effort. SEEK GOLD (Touch Gold) improved big time for Zito last fall, culminating with a troubled second to Saint Liam in the Clark beaten only 1 1/4 lengths, and makes his first start since then. His stablemate, PIES PROSPECT (Crafty Prospector), also saved his best of 2004 for last, with an 8 1/2 length win in the G3 Fred Hooper at Calder.

- Fusaichi Samurai's trip on the Derby trail has come and gone seemingly faster than Bernard Kerik's stay in Washington. After being bet down to 7-1 co-favoritsim in the first Derby future book pool off of his single maiden victory and $4.5 million worth of expectations, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus is out of the Derby picture with a pulled muscle. How many articles about this tomorrow will contain the word "Sayonara?"