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Monday, April 10, 2006

Monday Night Notes - Apr 10

- Saturday was a big day for some of the big trainers. It was a worthwhile journey East for Bob Baffert, who won not one, but two graded stakes at the Big A, with Too Much Bling taking the G3 Bay Shore. Since seeing him get crushed by First Samurai and Bluegrass Cat late last year, Baffert turned him back to sprints and he’s won three stakes in a row. Meanwhile, back at Santa Anita, Baffert scored four winners, including the maiden win of Mr. Sekiguchi, and two seconds with six starters; even the seconds were fine – one was Point Determined, who probably ran well enough to earn a trip to Kentucky, and the other was Evaluate, runner-up to stablemate Three Points, and the losing 6-5 favorite. The winner is another Baffert son of Point Given, and he graduated in his sixth start after close seconds to Really Indian, Point of Impact, Tatsuji, and Fear No Darkness; promising colts all. He’s out of a Canadian stakes winning mare by Citidancer who is inbred 2x3 to Seattle Slew and his brother Lomond.

Besides taking the G1 Apple Blossom, Todd Pletcher also took the G1 Carter at the Big A with his six year old gelding Bishop Court Hill. And at 8-1!! He’s the first stakes winner of the year for sire Holy Bull, who’s had some bad luck of late with his Derby prospects. Sacred Light tasted dirt when he stumbled coming out of the gate for the SA Derby, and slightly grabbed a quarter, according to trainer David Hofmans, who did not have a good weekend at all. And Flashy Bull, of course, had those thumps. Both remain Derby candidates, though they both have earnings issues. Pletcher also ran second in the G1 Ashland with Wait A While. Two wins, a second and a third (Keyed Entry) in Grade 1 races, not bad.

Nick Zito had three winners at Keeneland on Saturday, including Giant Basil (Giant’s Causeway), a half brother to High Fly who has really taken to the grass after two awful dirt races (are you listening Highland Cat?) This was his third stellar turf effort in a row, and actually his first time first under the wire (he graduated via DQ). He was a nice price too at $16.60, under red-hot Julien Leparoux, as the fans went for Galantus, a sharp looking UK import from Angel Penna who ran second as the 3-1 choice.

- And speaking of High Fly, that brings me to Brother Derek. Walter disagreed with me saying that he would need to show another dimension to win the Derby, and I don’t disagree that he doesn’t have to be on the lead to win. I was talking more about that he’ll be experiencing things that he hasn’t in his preparation; and it’s in that way that he reminds me a bit of High Fly. One of the reasons I didn’t like him in the Derby last year was because he had raced only in Florida, had things pretty much his own way in his preps, defeating basically the same cast of characters with an occasional new face thrown in. Brother Derek, I think, is a far better horse than High Fly was at this point last year, don't get me wrong. But he’ll still have to do new things like win over an eastern track – and, as Walter correctly pointed out, “there are a lot of horse who've looked great in California, but simply don't handle the deeper surfaces as they head East.” (Brother Derek is actually o-for-1 out east, but we give him a pass on that because it was a one turn race.)

He’ll have to show that he can win in a big field, and there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll have to deal with a bump, or with traffic. He may have to show that he can beat a closely matched rival in a head-to-head duel down the stretch. All I’m saying is that I feel that he’s had a somewhat isolated and well-scripted preparation. The Derby is going to be a completely different experience than what he’s faced before, and unless he’s just head and shoulders above the rest, which is certainly possible, he’s probably going to have to overcome some kind real adversity and/or stare down an equally talented rival for the first time.

As far as his 5-1 line in the futures pool, how much lower could he possibly be on race day? As good as he’s been, you have a 20 horse field, an undefeated horse in Barbaro, Lawyer Ron, who, should he win the Ark Derby, would come in with imposing form (if not figs), and what if Strong Contender wins big on Saturday?

Besides, and here’s a bold prediction for you, if Discreet Cat is in the race, he will be the race favorite, and Brother Derek will be even closer to that 5-1.


Anonymous said... raise some intereting's entirely possible he'll get bumped or forced extremely wide on the turn, or have to steady or check and perhaps engage on a tooth-and-nail battle to the wire...and most of those things would be new to him...i will point out that he body-slammed Your Tent Or Mine leaving the gate in the Hollywood Futurity, and it didn't faze him any...granted, he was the bump-er and not the bump-ee, but it was a very hard bump just the same...speaking of which, what a shame that YTOM went AWOL...what a great rivalry that could've been...i'm still not convinced Brother Derek was the best horse in that race...moving East, you'd have to think that Bob and John's Wood Memorial win flatters Brother Derek a little bit, since he had torched that one in the Futurity, and and did the same thing to A.P. Warrior and Point Determined, who each beat Bob and John last time...i might also point out that Bob and John beat Keyed Entry, who beat Sweetnorthernsaint in the Gotham, who starred with Kevin Bacon in Wild Things...or something like that...i did catch the Illinois Derby btw, and thought Sweetnorthernsaint looked real good, though i was honestly paying more attention to Cause To Believe, who came up looking pretty flat (i guess you can toss him out of my Top 6) for Discreet Cat, no way does he go favored, at least not here in America...but that has nothing to do with his talent level, or his relative chance of winning the'll be because guys like Watchmaker and Free (and probably many others) will be screaming from the rooftops for two weeks that "Discreet Cat can't win the Derby", because he's only had two preps or he last ran in Dubai or because he'll be wearing Godolphin blue...and i'm sure it'll come up that Dettori blew the BC Classic @ Churchill Downs aboard doubt he'll have his supporters (as well he should), but i don't see Discreet Cat lower than 6/1 or so on raceday, assuming he shows up for the fact, he could well go higher than that, as Brother Derek will certainly pull more money and Barbaro likely will as well, and Lawyer Ron will have a huge throng of followers should he look good again in the Ark Derby...incidentally, should Strong Contender win the Blue Grass impressively and arrive @ Churchill with "win contender" status, it'll be VERY interesting to see if the same guys laughing off Discreet Cat's chances will do the same with Strong Contender...that one will have had just as light a campaign, lighter even, when you cponsider that the Derby would only be his second two-turn race (good grief)...

...btw, i'd like to remind you guys that i bet Brother Derek @ 56/1 in the Breeders Cup...i also passed on him @ 100/1 a few days before his Hollywood Futurity win...and now, he's the main threat to kill my "All Others" bet from Pool One...damn that Brother Derek... 8^P

Anonymous said...

Are you crazy ? Brother Derek will be under 7/2 no matter who is in the race. His SA Derby was monster and Solis never asked for anything. Can't ask for more. I have him at 10-1 in the future book and could not be happier. If he doesn't get left at the gate or fall down, he walks home.