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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Wide Open La Brea

- The final Grade 1 stakes race of 2005, the La Brea Stakes for three-year old fillies at seven furlongs, drew a big field with a lot of question marks. There are fillies coming off layoffs, cutting back in distance, turf runners trying dirt for the first time, a filly on a six race winning streak stepping up in class, a shipper from the East Coast; and there’s a good possibility of a sloppy track to boot.

Tough race to figure; there are reasons to be wary of most if not all of the contenders. Leave Me Alone was in the Eclipse running herself after dominating the Test, but followed her second to In the Gold in the Gazelle with a dull effort over the quirky Keeneland surface at 4-5. She is working lights out, man! And her trainer Eric Kruljac is good in the 60 day layoff range. If she runs back to the Test, she could certainly win, but she may need one, as she did when returning off a similar layoff in April, and she has speed to contend with inside of her.

Trickle of Gold (Formal Gold) has won those six straight races at Delaware and Laurel, dominating by a total of 45 lengths, including a win two back with a field co-high Beyer of 107. Jeremy Rose is in for the ride.

My Miss Storm Cat may also be mixed up in an early pace scenario. I watched her win in August off a year layoff on the Cal Racing site, and it was every bit as easy and impressive as Walter described here; and to think that runner-up Selvatica, who was coming off a similar layoff, went on to post a 105 Beyer in winnin her next race. The fact that she hasn’t appeared since that race indicates that Baffert is still nursing her through physical problems, but her spectacular 1:11 1/5 work on Monday (doesn't that seem awfully fast so soon before this race?) certainly indicates that she’s feeling good now.

Great Intentions may be able to sit a bit off the pace as Mike Hushion ships her cross country after taking the Top Flight at Belmont. But that was two months ago, and there’s always a question of how an east coaster will fare out west. Sharp Lisa hasn’t been out since April. Pussycat Doll is tough around two turns, but her only sprint try has been poor.

Then there are the two turf horses trying dirt for the first time – Three Degrees and Shining Energy. Nice grass horses! Byron King in the Form points out that four of the last six winners of this race preceded it with a turf effort; but I’m going to chalk that up as ‘too much information.’ That statistic doesn’t say whether those were also first-time dirt horses; last year’s winner Alphabet Kisses had already shown an affinity for both surfaces.

I think one can find one reason or another to stand against anyone you want to. My Miss Storm Cat is the one with the scariest untapped potential and I think she’d be worth a bet if she’s close to her 9-2 morning line odds. This is the kind of race that I would really hesitate to try and pick without seeing the odds. I’d be looking out for any of these that seem dull on the board, and shopping for anyone, such as, possibly, Trickle of Gold, who may be a bit overlaid. (That can be a subtle difference to be sure.) However, assuming that our plan to rid the house of all the teenagers by means of lies and deceipt in order to securely lock it down before going to a friend’s house upstate for New Year’s Eve ceremonies succeeds, I will hopefully already be in a distant state of consciousness that doesn’t include the thrill of pari-mutuel wagering. (And besides, they don’t get HRTV.)

So I’m just going to throw a few bucks on 30-1 morning line Thrilling Victory and hope for a lucky, if unlikely, end of the betting year. A Cal-bred took the Malibu at long odds, so why not lightning striking twice in this, the distaff counterpart to that race? There could certainly be a hot pace, especially if Hushion employs Mystic Chant as a rabbit for Great Intentions, and with many of these coming off layoffs, I can envision the scenario of it falling apart in the seventh furlong. Thrilling Victory is much improved for Jerry Hollendorfer, who has eight winners at Bay Meadows just since Christmas. This daughter of Event of the Year (Seattle Slew, to whom she’s inbred 2x4) has closed powerfully to win her last two at six furlongs against far weaker at Golden Gate, with two sub-12 second eighths to finish each of those wins. She’s won as far as a mile and a sixteenth, so she may benefit from the extra furlong here. She even has some class in her distaff family; her second dam is a three-quarter sister to General Meeting, and her third dam is a half to the dam of Carson City. And she's two-for-two in the slop.


Anonymous said...

...okay, got my reports and i'm all set to go...i'll get right to the point, Point of Impact looks vulnerable...i have a good-but-not-great report on him, and it certainly seems to suggest that 5 1/2 furlongs may not be his cup of tea...i'd look for better things down the line from this one; you may see something similar to Royal Legacy's run on Opening Day...on the other hand, i DO have a top-flight report on an O'Neill firster named Totally Gone...5/1 on the morning line, with the deadly O'Neill/P-Val combo working for's very strange that this horse brought only $65K @ the Barrett's sale (when the stud fee was $150K), but whatever problems this horse had in the spring seem far behind him now...i also have a good report on Point of Impact's uncoupled entrymate, Kailee Rush, which is rather'll see what i mean as you read farther down...also nice reports on Sinister Minister...myself, no question i'll be backing Totally Gone in this spot, but have a look for yourselves and come to your own conclusions...

POINT OF IMPACT (Dec 20, 1:00.0)

Tracked and inched clear from Gone Famous (100.3, Hess) looking leggy and one paced but steady in 35.2, 100.1. Plenty of run, does look and move like a router. Grade B-

TOTALLY GONE (Dec 22, 1:00.3g)

Looks flat out fast from the gate leading Princess Integrity (113.1g, Truman) and Five Star Cat (48.1g, O'Neill) quickly breezing while not let run in 12.1, 34.4 (up there) galloping out with a pull in 48.4 out again in 100.4. Speedy prospect. Grade B+

KAILEE RUSH (Dec 20, 58.3)

Speedy drill here with a 'mate looking snappy to the wire in 34.0, 58.4. Clearly has speed. Grade B+


Broke far back of Artistic Song (114.2) made nice progress to be 2 back at the 1/4 pole in 47.4 had traffic problems midstretch, but rallied smartly late to be h/h late in 112.4. Good looking drill. Grade B


Strong gate drill over this deep surface quick and speedy in 23.0, 46.2 never really asked while in blinkers. Very nice. Grade B+ for the La Brea, i've only got one report on MMSC, and wouldn't ya know it, it's the slow big deal though, all i need to know is that she's healthy, and she seems to get the thumbs-up here...i do have a huge report on Simply Because as well, which i'm not very happy about because she appears to be MMSC's main pace adversary, and she's drawn immediately to MMSC's outside...definitely not good news, but as effortlessly as MMSC was able to put away Selvatica back at Del Mar, i just can't see Simply Because getting the better of her...wouldn't shock me though if those two are able to get clear of the field and just keep on going...we'll any event, what has me most concerned right now is the track condiition...the forecast is for rain on Saturday, and an off-track will introduce an unknown factor into the equation...on the flip-side though, i'm sure this means they're gonna seal the track, which generally helps the front-runners...come hell or high-water though, if MMSC goes off 5/2 or higher, well then..."I'M ALL OVER IT, G"...

MY MISS STORM CAT (Dec 20, 113.4)

Easy drill for Baffert, working solo in 48.2, 113.0 galloping easily in 126.1. Seems ok off the layoff. Grade B-

SIMPLY BECAUSE (Dec 26, 58.3)

Absolutely terrific looking drill over this deep track flying early in 22.3, finishing trying hard while let run in 58.3. Ready for a huge try. Grade A, i know you guys want as much info on Point of Impact as possible, so i've got some other reports for you...these are NOT from the guy i use, but i figured you'd want to see them here ya go...incidentally, it was from these reports that i found Point of Impact and MMSC did NOT work together on Dec 14, as i had originally thought...that's pertinent info...also keep in mind, the second Point of Impact drill is over a month old...

POINT OF IMPACT (Dec 14, 111.3g)

Best drill i've seen from this big oversized chestnut. Flashed speed early with stable-mate Kailee Rush. Dispatched of Kailee around the turn and pulled away in the lane while under steady pressure. Nice move.

POINT OF IMPACT (Nov 17, 47.3)

Big Baffert 2yo turned in what has become the customary drill for him. Worked in company with Royal Legacy and always appeared best of the duo while running on the inside. Still acting like a kid at times but does have ability.

TOTALLY GONE (Dec 22, 100.3g)

Worked from the gate for O'Neill with Princess Integrity (see 9th race) and one other. Went super with speed in 22.2, 46.1 breezing and finished in 59 flat breezing. Went super and did it well!

MY MISS STORM CAT (Dec 26, 111.1)

This gal can really move and if she stays sound she could be a really good horse. Went in 12.1, 24.1, and 35.3 effortlessly. Gathered momentum in 47 flat and 59.3 to the wire for the last 5 furlongs.

SIMPLY BECAUSE (Dec 26, 58.3)

Absolutely sizzled through the early stages. No questioning this filly's speed. Rider pushed her home the final eigth. Impressive move over tiring surface.

Alan Mann said...

Walter -

Awesome update, thanks!

Totally Gone is from a Totally European distaff line and seems destined to run on the grass.

I overlooked Simply Because but you're right about her being a pace factor too. I don't think you can overlook Trickle of Gold; she's outrun some pretty fast fillies back east pretty easily and I think she'll be part of the pace too. Should be a good one; sorry I'm gonna miss it, but best of luck to everyone!

t said...

Nice call on Totally Gone, Walter. I Bet him on top of an Exacta with POI, but did not bet him to win. 5-1 looked like a gift. Well done.

Anonymous said...

...had a reasonably good day...picked up almost 9 units on Totally Gone, but gave two-thirds of it back on My Miss Storm Cat...ugh!...everything seemed to be going fine on the backstretch, as she had shaken loose early and looked to be cruising on the lead, but once she turned into the stretch, she just idea what happened, though it didn't appear to be a wet-track issue...maybe she hurt herself again?...i dunno...thanks goodness Totally Gone got there for me, it could've been a really bad day... for Point of Impact, he seemed to be gathering steam late...gotta respect him on the stretchout, me thinks...

Anonymous said...

...almost forgot, thanks for the kind words Brad...sorry you missed on that exacta...just got done looking at the chart, and it appears that Point of Impact broke slowly...certainly that must've cost him second, as he only missed by half a length...tough beat...

Anonymous said...

...T-Man, you're right that "knowledge is power" in horse absolutely can not win if you don't arm yourself with as much information as possible...but once you've done that, it's STILL only half the have to learn how to bet, i'm not gonna say that my way or your way or their way is correct, because everybody's different and there's more than one way to skin a cat...but seeing as you're just starting out, i'd like to relay a story from when i was just starting was kind of a defining moment in my handicapping career...when i first started, i was just like you, mostly playing quinellas or exactas mixed in with a few small win bets...never more than $10 or $20 a race, because i really didn't know what i was doing, and it was all i could afford anyway...then one weekend i had a big race coming up with Montreal Red, a horse who i really liked and had been folling for a while...i was really confident that he'd win, so i "loaded up" on the race, betting him every way i could think, place, show, exactas, trifectas, you name it...altogether i invested $50, the most i'd ever bet on any horse what happened?...Montreal Red won easily @ 2/1 odds, and i triumphantly marched to the window to collect my much did i win???...well, uhhhh, it turns out i didn't win at all...i got back $48, which amounted to a $2 loss! could this be, i asked???...that's when it hit me like a sledgehammer...if i had just bet the $50 on Montreal Red to win, i'd have made a cool hundred...i mean, he was the one i really liked anyway...he was the whole reason i was betting the race in the first place...why should i tie my money up on horses that i really didn't like at all???'s hard enough counting on one horse, it REALLY tough when you start countng on two or three or from that point on, i started betting almost exclusively to win...that was roughly 12 years ago, and i've never regretted that's also much easier on the brain, because you're not contantly beating yourself up thinking "i should've used that horse" or "i should've boxed it" or whatever...your horse wins, you win...your horse loses, you lose...pretty, that's not to say that exotic wagering is never called for, because sometimes it is...and again, i'm not trying to say my way is best, only that it works best for me...just something to think about...anyway, whatever path you decide to take on your handicapping career, i wish you all the best...same goes for any other newcomers who might read's a great game, and sites like this one make it even more enjoyable...thanks again to Alan and the other posters out there for offering their respective viewpoints...i know it's helped me since i started coming here, Magna Graduate in the Clark Handicap jumps immediately to mind...i wouldn't even have looked at that race if it wasn't for Alan...with me being a West Coast guy, it helps to get some East Coast perspective...especially with Gulfstream right around the corner...thanks again to everyone...