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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Three At The Gulf

- If you wanted to show someone in a nutshell why we love this game, the 7th, 8th, and 9th at Gulfstream on Sunday could be Exhibits A, A1, and A2.

In the 7th, the G3 Sabin, Golden Velvet seemed as if she might be home after disposing of Pletcher's favored Mini Sermon around the eighth pole. But Darley's Lady Marlboro, who stayed inside while Golden Velvet took the overland rote, chipped away steadily after squeezing through inside, and appeared to get past the leader at the end. The cameraman focused on her after the finish. The slow motion replay showed that Lady Marlboro had clearly gone by in the final strides. But Golden Velvet got every possible inch of the head bob; I thought she won. So I think that if you had Golden Velvet, you should consider yourself fortunate that you managed to get a share!

The 8th was a three-year old maiden race on the grass, and Barclay Tagg's 9-5 favorite The Cat's Affair swept wide around the field to the lead with 9-1 My Princess Jess right to her outside. The two cleared the rest of the field around the eighth pole, and from that point on, this was as good as it gets. My Princess Jess was valiant, but Tagg's filly just refused to give up the lead. The final margin was a slowly diminishing and short neck, and I don't know that extra ground would have helped the runner-up.

The defeated filly was very impressive though for her trainer Bobby Barbara, taking off like a rocket midway through the turn and sustaining her run to the wire. It was her second start, and first since a second place finish at the Big A in November (a race that also produced I Lost My Choo, a bombshell winner of the 4th race [and the second such longshot of the meeting for Phil Serpe]). My Princess Jess is by Stormy Atlantic, out of a Pleasant Colony half sister to the champion and Distaff winner Jewel Princess.

The 9th, the G2 Hal's Hope, was an impressive showcase for Chatain. Cornelio Velasquez could not have been more confident as he eased him up steadily from the back of the pack. The rider was peeking behind him while a full five wide on the turn, and Chatain just exploded home once asked for run in the stretch, skipping home in 12.43. The final time of 1:36.39, while not particularly fast, was a second faster than the girls in the Sabin.

This son of Forest Wildcat is now five, and if Angel Penna Jr. can get him to stay healthy, perhaps he'll really show us something, especially since the trainer plans to stick to the shorter distances he seems to prefer. "It’s hard to plan too far ahead because of his various problems, but one possibility will be the mile race in Dubai...No more two-turn races.” [Bloodhorse]