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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Highland Cat In Deep

- Highland Cat is supposed to be new and improved since the treatment on his back, but he appears to be in way over his head in Thursday's 8th race at the Big A. Not to mention the fact that his best race, by far, was on the grass; he clearly appears to shy away from the dirt kickback. He's in this one mile maiden special weight basically because Bill Turner wants him to race, and there's just nothing in the condition book for 45 maiden claimers this month. There's a 35K at six furlongs in a couple of weeks, and that's it, and despite some suggestions by one of the partners, Castle Village doesn't want to ship him out of town.

So he's in a tough spot here, but a couple of particularly crappy dirt lines would help elevate his odds when he gets back on the turf I suppose. Twenty One Dollars is Pletcher off the layoff (running under the care of assistant Seth Benzel). The barn has a modest, for Pletcher, record of 21-5-4-4 at the big A. This lightly raced five-year old is by Mt. Livermore, out of a Deputy Minister half-sister to the nice handicap star Wekiva Springs, who stands in Florida for $2500; and he didn't run half bad in three efforts last year.

Marital Assist is an Edward Evans homebred four-year old son of AP Indy, also lightly raced. He's shown some real promise, with a second and two thirds in three starts, including a close third late last year in his first race in 13 months. Prior to that was a second, beaten one length by Corinthian in November 2005. Corinthian (Pulpit), the dq'd winner of the Fountain of Youth, is supposed to be coming back; the last I read of him was in this article in the Form which said that he's working out and nearing a return. [UPDATE: He in fact is running against Jazil at Gulfstream on Thursday!]

Trainer James Harold Bond has Then and Now, a $170,000 yearling purchase in 2004 just making his first start at four, ugh. Bond is having a tremendous meeting; at 40.7% (11 winners out of 27 starters), he has by far the best winning percentage of any trainer who's started more than one horse. Then and Now is by Tiznow, and his second dam is the great Woody Stephens turf filly Sabin. He's inbred 4x3 to Lyphard, and may have the grass in mind. You may want to watch the board. Bond has 15 first-out winners over the last five years, and none of them have paid over 6.50 to 1. I love stats like that.

And then there's that $5.2 million baby...or rather, four-year old Ever Shifting, who ran a distant 9th at 2-1 in his debut for Darley in December. He did make a fairly impressive move, getting to within a couple from the front after breaking dead last.
But then he backed up through the field as quickly as he gained. Still, four horses from the race have come back to win, and I expect that he'll get bet.

So it seems as if it will be something akin to a public workout for Highland Cat, who has lost his last three dirt races by a combined 40 lengths. Please don't lose money on him. (But don't get mad at me if he wins.)

- Just Zip It (City Zip) is doing quite well, most recently breezing a half in 49.71 on February 3. She's being pointed to a state-bred sprint on Sunday, February 18.