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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Monday Morning Notes - April 7

- As I mentioned previously, Colonel John ran the fastest mile and an eighth Derby prep on Saturday, checking in at 1.48.13 in winning the Santa Anita Derby. The Cushion Track at Santa Anita produced some fast times all day - a maiden special dash for three-year olds went in 1.08.82 - so we don't yet know the significance of the time, both in terms of how fast it really was, or how relevant it is with respect to the natural dirt track at Churchill. The Beyer figure may address the former, but the latter will be subject to interpretation no matter what the fig turns out to be.

But you certainly had to love the confidence with which Corey Nakatani handled this colt throughout. He was unhurried down the backstretch, settling in sixth. As they rounded the turn, the colt actually dropped back to ninth. Trevor Denman noted the position loss initially with alarm, but then observed, "but he's got run in him - he's running on!" Nakatani had saved some ground in the two path around the turn while favored El Gato Malo took off wide. He still looked beaten midstretch and was bearing out from the whip. But he really seemed to surge late when the rider went to the right-handed whip (causing him to bear in), and he got up over a tough Bob Black Jack.

Colonel John had to overcome an unfavorable pace scenario; something that Atoned and Denis of Cork were unable to accomplish at Hawthorne. After opening quarters of 23.33 and 24.24, pacesetting Coast Guard went 24.07 and 23.86 to the eighth pole. So Colonel John was closing against a pace which was actually picking up. He himself ran the last three eighths of a mile in 35.49; getting the last furlong in 12.10 in order to catch Bob Black Jack (whose trainer is hedging on the Derby despite his game finish). That's impressive on any surface, and there's no reason why, on pedigree anyway, this son of Tiznow out of a Turkoman mare shouldn't run on dirt.

In addition, I thought that the race served as an excellent prep in that not only did Colonel John confirm his class and consistency, but it doesn't seem to have been a particularly stressful race. He didn't have to travel a lot of extra ground, and didn't really go to work in earnest until they turned for home. Colonel John should be coming up to the Derby in fine fettle.

Trainer Eoin Harty said that he'll ship the colt to Louisville 10-12 days beforehand, and that he'll have one workout over the track at Churchill Downs. "And then I'll pray." [San Bernardino Sun]

- Mary Rampellini reports in the Form that Eight Belles will next run in the Oaks after her hard-earned win as the 1-2 favorite in the Fantasy at Oaklawn. She's been nominated for the Triple Crown too, and there's been some talk, particularly on the part of owner Rick Porter, about taking on the boys. And I certainly wouldn't be surprised if we haven't heard the last of that despite this report, and similar comments reported by Robert Yates in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. (In fact, Porter told the Philly Inquirer: "I'd like to find a way to run in the Derby." Thanks to reader onecalicocat for that link.)

Eight Belles broke poorly, and front runner Alina was able to set a moderate pace of 48.12 in the four horse field; setting up another scenario, as in the SA Derby, in which the winner had to overcome a front-runner who was not stopping. Alina then went 24.34 and 24.19 to the sixteenth pole, and Eight Belles had to get that final half furlong in 6.23 seconds to finally get up. She looked beaten at the eighth pole, and showed a lot of guts in running down a filly who has been a different animal since switching to the Asmussen barn two races back.

- After seeing the way the two abovementioned races were run and the way the horses finished up, I think it's worth looking back at those fractions in the Wood once again - 22.48, 23.59, 25.43, 26.92, and then that final eighth of 13.93. The final three furlongs went in 40.85 seconds. Tale of Ekati himself closed in 13.66 - final 3/8ths in 40.40; Court Vision in 13.61 and 39.40. We're told that the track was "tiring," but I don't know that that's a legit explanation for the race being so slow. Temporary Saint took the Excelsior, the only other nine furlong (or two turn) race on the card in 1:51.13, and closed in 37.48. He, of course, was allowed to set a slower pace. So maybe the times were a function of the pace and the quality of the animals rather than the track being so aberrantly tiring as to cause such a slow time. Expressed in fifths at 1.52 2/5, it's tied for the slowest Wood ever since the race went to a mile and an eighth in 1952, when it was won in the same time by Master Fiddle. I'm not looking for the Derby winner from that race, despite whatever the Beyer boys may come up with.

- Foolish Bid is the third member of the Kasey K stable that I have come to own a share of, and he goes in the 7th at Philly Park today; he's 6-1 in the morning line. Here's a Phipps-bred son of Maria's Mon who was purchased privately from that outfit by David Jacobson last spring, and then picked up by Bob for 12.5K in a Jacobson clearance sale in October. He won his first off the claim by 7 at Philly Park, but hasn't finished particularly well in his last two in entry level allowances at that track. He's had a problem changing leads in the stretch. Trainer Keith Lebarron has tried to address that issue, and he'll need to improve in order to handle a couple of sharp move-ups here.

Just Zip It was briefly considered for yesterday's state-bred Personal Girl stakes at the Big A, won by Karakorum Starlet in a shade under 1:25 for seven furlongs. She'll instead go in the feature on Thursday, a state-bred NW2x allowance/30K optional claimer. More on that as the week progresses.


Anonymous said...

I Beyer's number I saw for Col. John was 95. Courtesy of railbird...

Alan Mann said...

So, we're supposed to believe that Col John's race was a mere two points better than the Wood? Not buying that.

steve in nc said...

I'll be curious what the dueling sheetmakers give Col. John, because unlike Beyer, they'll give him credit for going wide.

I gotta admit, though, Big Brown has blown me away. My jaw dropped when I saw his debut race, and he looked every bit as impressive, if not more, at GP. I agree with Dick Jerardi's piece. I rarely play chalk, but if he's in the neighborhood of 2-1 in the Derby, I might have to this time.

Anyone know what's going on with Vaulcluse? She wasn't in the 3rd Oaks future pool, but I haven't read of any injuries.

Superfecta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Superfecta said...

I'd happily take Eight Belles over about 2/3 of the probable Derby field at this point.