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Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Bountiful Opening Day

- Opening day at Santa Anita has attracted overflow fields including 14 entrants for the Malibu for three-year olds. In fact, the card features a very un-Southern California-like 104 runners for the nine races. One of the reasons for that is no doubt the lack of grass racing at the recently concluded Hollywood Park meet. The grassy Sir Beaufort stakes drew 19 contestants and was split into two divisions; the other two turf races have fields of 13 and 14.

Wilko drew the outside 14 post for the Malibu and thus has his excuse for this one already built in. Greeley’s Galaxy drew the two hole, and his jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "It's a lovely feeling being on your (Kentucky) Derby mount.....You develop a close relationship with him.” [Louisville Courier-Journal] It’s a little scary to think how close Desormeaux would feel to this horse if he’d won the Derby instead of finishing 11th. San Vicente winner Fusaichi Rock Star will be ridden by Shinji Fujita, the No. 3 rider in Japan and a favorite of owner Fusao Sekiguchi, who won the 2000 Kentucky Derby with Fusaichi Pegasus. [Sign On San Diego]

Jay Privman in the Form today has a Haskin-esque article in which he writes about a bunch of thus far under-the-radar juveniles that either have not yet started or who will enter their three-year old years with just a single effort under their belts. As you’re probably aware, one of the main “rules” for a Derby winner is that they have to had run as a two-year old. To me, that’s one of the most logical of the requirements one looks for on the first Saturday in May; it means that the horse has a solid foundation of racing to prepare him for the mile and a quarter test. However, as far as I'm concerned, qualifying by virtue of a maiden race five days before the end of the year is really just a technicality that I’d be sure to point out in the spring; that’s certainly a far cry from the experience that the top two-year olds have accumulated.

Privman mentions a trio of yet-to-start juveniles from the Baffert barn, including Point of Impact (Point Given), who our friend Walter has been keeping tabs on. The other two, Point Determined (Point Given) and Royal Legacy (Monarchos), are entered in Monday’s sixth at Santa Anita. Baffert says of his prospects: "It's like LAX at Thanksgiving..... They're all sitting on the tarmac, ready to fly.” Point Determined is out of Merengue, a stakes-winning Broad Brush mare; Royal Legacy is out of a Meadowlake mare who is a full sister to Greenwood Lake and a half to Success Express.

- Not a merry season for horsemen at Penn National, who last night suffered through their sixth consecutive weather-related cancellation. "This has been a hard time for our owners, trainers, and jockeys who make the show go," Penn National General Manager Gary Luderitz said. [Thoroughbred Times]

- The Head Chef is already, at 9:30 A.M. on Christmas Eve, cooking up enough of a storm for tomorrow’s mass family gathering that she’s triggered the smoke alarm. I’ll be ignored throughout the day, and may very well occupy myself with the racing from the three tracks, Calder, Fair Grounds, and Philly Park, that are running. I guess this is where I get to brag about my recent good fortune which has continued from last weekend; just last night I had the 5th race triple at Turfway ($352), where I nailed a cold $40 exacta the other night. These successes were from just a handful of bets; it’s amazing how quickly one’s fortune can turn around in this game if you keep a level head and stay at it. Here’s hoping that similar good fortune, food, and family visits each and every one of you, especially in far more profound ways than scoring on a few horse races (though that’s a very good thing too). If I don’t see you before Christmas day/Hanukah eve, have a most joyous and safe holiday!