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Friday, February 08, 2008

Try To Make Z Fortune

- Indian Blessing makes her fifth start, on her fifth different racetrack, in the Silverbulletday. She's won on a fast track, in the slop of the Breeders' Cup, and on the Cushion Track at Santa Anita (if just barely). That last race certainly did nothing to lessen my doubts about her invincibility. Even Baffert said: "Nobody is totally convinced about her distance limitations....I'd like to figure it out as quickly as possible." [DRF]

I'm not going to pick against her here though, as she figures to have things her own way. Miss Missile is an early type, but I don't think that 47 second halfs (halves?) in two turn races at Delta Downs is going to cut it against the Juvenile Filly champion. I love Proud Spell (as in, I love Proud Spell, not I love Proud Spell in this race). I loved her convincing and professional win in the Matron even if the Beyer came back a little light. Her second in the BC was excellent, but she might be facing a similar pace scenario here. Larry Jones said of Indian Blessing: "I'm not sure who can run with her," and added, revealingly perhaps: .."Maybe she's not quite at her best, either." [FOX Sports] Hmm. In any event, Proud Spell is a filly I'll be following down the road.

Since it's a stakes race at Fair Grounds, we have to mention Asmussen, who I already picked to win the first two of the graded stakes on the card. He has eleven stakes winners already at this meeting, out of 35 runners. Jolie the Cat handled the stretch out with aplomb in winning the Tiffany Lass over the highly regarded Tizaqueena. She's by Tale of the Cat, out of a stakes winning Pleasant Colony mare who's a half-sister to the Grade 1 winner Jolie's Halo.

- And finally, in the Risen Star, Pyro has gotten a lot of hype for his two Grade 1 seconds to War Pass, and for his early morning escapades with Horse of the Year Curlin. He was co-favored in the morning line at 12-1, along with War Pass and Court Vision, for the futures pool. But I suppose I could be contrary and say that he picked merely up the pieces when War Pass bottomed out anyone who dared to be close to him in the Champagne and BC. And I could also point out that Asmussen thought his last workout was too fast. “The only good news about that is it wasn’t for the Derby.” [Thoroughbred Times]

I really liked the win by stablemate Z Fortune in the LeComte. He settled easily after going head to head in his first two career races, and rallied into a pretty even pace. He got his final quarter in 23 4/5 after running the prior in 24 4/5 (as usual, these figures courtesy of Formulator); so he really picked it up late. Blackberry Road, who rallied for second, wasn't gaining an inch. I admit that I may be a bit psyched by the Pyro hype myself; but I do think he'll be far lower than his 3-1 morning line, so Z Fortune should present some value, and I'd bet him if he's at least his 7-2 morning odds.

And other than those three, I have to say that I think that the depth of this field is being a little overrated; in my humble opinion, of course. Visionaire looks like the best of the rest, but tries two turns for the first time; and though he won emphatically in his first try against winners, that race has failed to produce better than a third place finish out of seven who have run back. Check It Twice benefited from a fast pace in a five horse field at Calder, and I guess that Coal Play isn't that good (though third place finisher Honey Honey Honey has since won two Tampa stakes, and I didn't have him either time even though mother is named Honey.) Prince Cortez is unbeaten, but has a lot to prove against these horses.