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Friday, April 04, 2008

Blinkers Key for Circular Quay

- There's too much going on tomorrow to fully digest, with the three Derby preps, the Carter, and the two filly showdowns (Country Star vs Proud Spell; Ginger Punch vs Zenyatta). Overlooked amidst all the excitement is the Oaklawn Handicap, a Grade 2 featuring a seven horse field with large implications for the Older-Horses-Besides-Curlin division.

Heatseeker is listed at the 2-1 morning line favorite. The five year old son of Giant's Causeway has matured big time, and comes off his Big Cap win in which he earned a career best Beyer of 110. Jerry Hollendorfer told the Form: "Every horse takes its own time to mature and find their self, and this horse has found himself and is very confident and is going very well."

However....and perhaps you could sense there was a 'however' coming since we always like to oppose the favorite if's certainly worth noting that all of this horse's 15 career starts have come on either the turf or synthetic tracks. It's also his first race outside of California. I know I've at times written that the synth-to-dirt thing can be overrated in some circumstances; but when it comes to evaluating a horse that's going to be a short price in a talented field, that's a different story.

I like the "new" Circular Quay, though I don't expect that he's going to be any bargain in the win pool either. In saying that, I'm betting that his win in the New Orleans Handicap was more due to the addition of blinkers than an affinity for the Fair Grounds. Pletcher said: "We got the response that we were hoping to with the blinkers." [DRF] That's for sure. Had he closed through the long stretch from far back to win, I probably would feel differently. But Garrett Gomez had to wrangle him back off the lead down the backstretch, and the length of the stretch was actually more of a disadvantage considering he was battling head and head with Grasshopper towards the end. He got that last furlong in 12 3/5.

Circular Quay's improvement could of course also be due simply to his maturation.

"He's made a big transition from 3 to 4 in terms of his physical appearance....He's a much stronger horse than he was a as 3-year-old, and he's carrying more condition, and I think that's part of the reason for his success the other day."
Interesting also that the Toddster shipped the four-year old son of Thunder Gulch back to the west coast after the race; he seems to have really thrived on the Cushion Track at Hollywood, working a bullet (of 36) five furlongs in 59.1 last weekend.

Buzzards Bay ran the race of his life over this track when he won this race two years ago; but he hasn't approached that race in terms of Beyers ever since. Tiago is a big disappointment to me, and you can have him at 7-2 as far as I'm concerned. Fairbanks never seems to have recovered from the 115 he ran at SA one year ago, but could be an early factor in a race without too much speed. Silver Lord also has early foot, but seemed a bit dead on the board when he dumped his rider at Fair Grounds.

- Again, I'll be live blogging from the Big A tomorrow....and I'll be discussing the bulk of tomorrow's races, both here and around the country, during that time. If by chance you're around, check in and let us know who you like.


ljk said...

Watched my hometown Rays hammer the Yankees tonight. The conversation was that the worst of the weather had passed. What's the forecast for tommorow?

As we've discussed many times, NY has the best graded stakes program in America, but those stakes at Oaklawn are the best tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else note that the running times in the Dubai World Cup (and other races on the card) have been called into serious question?

Curlin purportedly put in the 3rd fastest yet a prior race, per the Racing Post, appears to have been listed by the DRC as 1 second faster then their timing experts.

Looks like with 3 staples to fix that cut War Pass is as good as new and ready to run on an off-track :)

Alan Mann said...

Accuweather is calling for a "little rain" tonight, and "a touch of rain" for tomorrow morning. It hasn't rained since this morning, so could we be looking at a fast track?

Anonymous said...

Any Keeneland-based Derby reports this year from CLOCKER-1? I forget what time he surfaced last year. Really enjoyed reading his stuff...

Anonymous said...

will be fast by post time, cloudy and balmy, no rain in sight.

Take another look at Tiago, may appreaciate getting off the artificial surfaces as much as Heatseeker may not like the switch.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely Cindy in the Ashland Stakes can upset the apple cart of Proud Spell and Country Star. On poly track she had that brilliant run at Turfway over the very good field of boys. She is a closer from downtown.