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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Terrible Two

- The entries are in for Santa Anita Saturday, and it’s a short field of six in the G2 Santa Catalina, a key 1 1/16 mile Derby prep. Declan’s Moon (Malibu Moon) gets the outside draw with the speedy Going Wild (Golden Missile) and Spanish Chestnut (Horse Chestnut) just to his inside. There are good reasons for each of them to lose, really; the two speedsters could burn each other out, and Declan’s Moon’s trainer Ron Ellis has so much as said that the horse is not fully cranked for this because he doesn’t want him to “run such a big race that he'd bounce.” [Bloodhorse] If he comes out OK and aims to the Santa Anita Derby, well that’s another five weeks away, and if he doesn’t want him to run such a big race this Saturday that he’d bounce, he’s certainly not going to want to run such a big race four weeks before the Derby either. Why doesn’t he just strap on a sulky and trot the horse around himself? I don’t like this two-prep thing, it’s not fun and it seems a little cocky as well...or is it just the usual considerations that lead to so many early retirements? Regardless, I’m rooting for Declan’s Moon, Afleet Alex, Wilko, and Rockport Harbor and his website to not win the Derby this year, because I don’t want this to become a trend. If one of these guys wins, the Citgo Road to the Derby could become a very short one.

- On the other hand, ten horses including Rock Hard Ten and Imperialism, who ran 1-2 in the Strub, are lining up to take a shot at Saint Liam (Saint Ballado) in the Santa Anita Handicap. Nice field, but seemingly one Saint Liam should be able to handle if he doesn’t get into trouble from his outside post. A big win would get the racing world buzzing, with Ghostzapper continuing to train well at Palm Meadows.

Two more stakes on the card, including the return of Breeders Cup Mile winner (Sultry Song) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroy at a mile on the grass.

- Lauren Stitch in the Form discusses the pedigrees of Zito’s Sun King and Andromeda’s Hero. Of the latter, she writes about his third dam, Equal Change, a daughter of Horse of the Year and Belmont winner Arts and Letters, and I remember well her second to Ruffian in the 1975 Coaching Club American Oaks; in fact, that’s what I remember most about the race. I guess we all took it for granted that Ruffian would win, and to see Equal Change keep pace and then make a determined run at the seemingly indestructible filly made a lasting impression. She only lost by 2 3/4 lengths, and the race was 2/5ths faster than Avatar’s Belmont Stakes that summer.

Examining the tail-female family (dam, dam's dam, dam's granddam, etc.) reveals the class of the animal, and although the fifth dam may not have as much influence as the first dam, it is the entire female line that unlocks the secrets of class. In that vein, it is remarkable to note that Andromeda's Hero's eighth dam is Masda, a full sister to Man o' War. [Daily Racing Form]