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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sky's the Limit for High Limit

- A lot of attention on High Limit this week; he’s a subject of no less than three (sub. only) columns in the Form. Mike Watchmaker informs us that the Beyer for his win in the Strub was a career best 109, and notes that he was able to successfully rate and pass horses in the stretch for the first time. Lauren Stitch discusses his unraced dam Known Romance, who is inbred 2x4 to the important producer Tamerett through her sons Known Fact and Tentam (she’s also the dam of Secrettame, the dam of Gone West).

Jay Hovdey notes how the colt has bounced back from a Derby campaign which saw him sent to the post at Churchill for a disasterous last place finish off only four lifetime starts. "I'm not so sure that we might have leaned on him a little bit early on in the game," [owner Gary] West conceded. I’m not so sure about West’s command of language in this statement, but I guess he’s saying it was too much too soon. More interesting is West’s description of the cuts and scrapes that the colt suffered during the race.

"It was a bad enough thing that the vet described it to my racing manager as, 'Imagine if someone hit you in the leg with a baseball bat. How well do you think you'd run?' "
So what did they do with their horse that had been figuratively hit in the leg with a baseball bat? They ran him back just two weeks later in the Preakness, of course! What did you think they would do?

Andrew Caulfield in the fabulous, but sadly blog-proof Thoroughbred Daily News, also took a look at High Limit, and specifically his sire Maria’s Mon, who is off to a rousing start in 2006. Maria’s Mon is prominent on that list of juvenile champions (1995) who didn’t make it to the Derby; in fact, he didn’t win another race; he was retired after two races at three. (Check out his wins in the Champagne and Futurity here.)

Caulfield writes of how Maria's Mon started out as a $7500 sire and suffered from the third-year doldrums with a small crop. But when his first crop hit the ground running in 2000, his fee increased to $12,500 the following year. When his Monarchos won the 2001 Derby, the fee soared to $35,000, and since higher fees attract better mares, we’re seeing the results of that in his 2002 crop, now four. Besides High Limit, his Gaff, a $7000 weanling to $100,000 yearling pinhook, won the G3 Mr. Prospector earlier this year; and Monarch Lane, second in the Illinois Derby, won at Gulfstream last month in handy fashion, setting a track record for a mile despite it being his first race since April. Two other graded winners from this crop are Watchmon and Whimsey, winners of the G3 Jamaica and Iowa Oaks respectively last year.

Maria’s Mon’s 2003 crop is also looking good – Cause To Believe thrust himself squarely into the Derby picture with his win in the El Camino Real, and Wait A While was a 14 length winner in the slop in the Davona Dale last weekend. Latent Heat, an impressive three-year old for Bobby Frankel, is a member of that crop as well, as is John Ward’s Strong Contender, who continued to work towards his three-year old debut with a five furlong breeze in 1:00.60 (3/23) at Gulfstream on Wednesday. While Maria’s Mon’s stud fee dropped to $25,000 in 2005, I imagine it will go back up next year if he continues to get these results throughout the year.