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Friday, December 16, 2005

Derby Fever at Xmas Time

- You can probably toss half of the field, including the three maidens in Saturday’s Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity, but the four top contenders will look to stamp themselves as legitimate (living) contenders for the Kentucky Derby. Beau Greeley has entered two non-winners that look particularly hopeless ("You know me. I'm not afraid.") The other, Jealous Profit, has actually shown decent thirds in the Norfolk and Del Mar Futurity and would be a surprising though not impossible victor. Old Thunder was the even money favorite when 4th against Your Tent Or Mine in the Hollywood Prevue, and when you hear his trainer say of his entry here that "It was an owners' decision," well, that pretty much says it all. [Bloodhorse]

Your Tent Or Mine (Forest Camp) may be the favorite based on his spectacular clock-busting win in the seven furlong Prevue, in which he lagged a bit behind the field before exploding between horses like a far more experienced colt, stopping the clock in a meet-best 1:21, with the final 3/8ths in 36 flat. The Futurity, at a mile and a sixteenth, will be his first try around two turns, but trainer Neil Drysdale is not worried. “He relaxes. He's got a good attitude." [LA Daily News]

Bob and John (Seeeking the Gold) was 1-5 when he was DQ’d in the Real Quiet; he wasn’t facing anything like these. He stormed home impressively in the stretch that day, but he’ll have to turn the tables on A.P. Warrior, who beat him by four lengths in an allowance on Nov 4. You know that Bob Baffert is desperate to get back to the Derby this year, and he has his eye on the big picture. "He's maturing. It's exciting when you've got a horse that's talented. He's still got a ways to go, but by springtime, he's going to be a really good horse." [Daily Racing Form]

But is he good enough now to turn the tables on A.P. Warrior (A.P. Indy)? Watching that race, it’s really striking to see the contrast between the riders of each colt. As Victor Espinoza was whipping and driving on Bob and John, Valenzeula (who understandably switches here to Your Tent Or Mine) was going easy on A.P Warrior, and that was after he was visibly straining to keep the colt a couple of lengths off the lead. Trainer Eoin Harty said: “I don't think he wants to be on the lead….I want to teach him to relax. He has a good turn of foot. He always breaks so sharp and he finds himself on the lead.” [DRF]

Not in the Norfolk though; he found himself sixth early, and couldn’t quite make up enough ground to catch Brother Derek (Benchmark), who subsequently ran 4th in the Juvenile. Brother Derek's trainer Dan Hendricks said ”I'm optimistic that he's better going two turns than one turn," and he told Thoroughbred Times, "He came out of the Breeders’ Cup great….He has gained weight and is training well. It looks like a pretty salty lineup, but I wouldn’t trade places with anybody."

I'm thinking that Your Tent Or Mine will be the favorite as he looks to go on in his first route attempt. But if he is a short price, I'll look for a value play. Picks: A.P. Warrior, Your Tent Or Mine, Brother Derek

- Next month, the Sport of Kings will present the Horse of the Year award to Saint Liam, trained by Richard Dutrow, who was suspended this year for illegal medication; and may very well give the trainer award to Todd Pletcher, whose 45-day suspension for the same substance was upheld by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. “It's a powerful substance that can block a nerve," racing board chairwoman Cheryl Buley said. "We have to take that very seriously." [Bloodhorse] We’ll see if the Eclipse voters do too.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Both trainers got caught w/same medication.What they supposedly use is not yet detecable,so in this case its more a matter of this particular drug being in a horses' system too close to race day.