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Monday, April 21, 2008

War Pass Takes A Pass

- The defection of War Pass due to injury certainly changes the outlook for at least the first mile or so of the Derby, and I'm sure that the connections of Big Brown can't be unhappy. The juvenile champion was one horse who was certain to be winging out there early. Now, we have Bob Black Jack, trying dirt for the first time, Cowboy Cal, who appears to be a turf horse, Recapturetheglory, who I'm not sure is really that fast early, and Gayego, who is quick early, but is more of a pressing type. Am I leaving anyone out?

Meanwhile, Big Brown has had two flawless five furlong workouts, and his preparation appears to be going very smoothly. I surely intend to bet against him...assuming that he's the favorite, that is. Gimme 5-1, and that's different, because I must admit that I find him pretty scary. Besides his freaky talent, I not only like his pedigree, but it's one of my favorites in the entire field. I believe his downfall will be his getting hooked early in the usual Derby stampede, and suffering from both his early efforts and his lack of experience at crunch time. Unfortunately, now there's less speed with which to hook him. And if those of you who think, based on his second race, that he'll be able to rate are correct - a notion with which I respectfully and optimistically disagree - then, oh boy.

I don't really know that Zito would have run War Pass anyway; he never absolutely committed to the idea. He had recently started to talk up how draining the Wood was, calling it a "gut-wrenching" performance. If that's the case, then I submit that it was only slightly less so for Tale of Ekati. Third place finisher Court Vision may have had an easier time since he didn't run much early on, but he apparently did so in a workout at Churchill on Thursday morning. So much so, that Haskin, who didn't even see it, devoted 12 paragraphs of his latest Derby Trail column to it. This is when the roses began to burst, he wrote. I don't really know what that means.

Court Vision went a half in :46 1/5 breezing, galloping out five-eighths in about 1:00 3/5 under exercise rider Neil Poznanski.
That means he galloped out the last eighth in 14 2/5, even slower than he comes home in his races, so it sounds to me like he's right on schedule to close for 11th or 12th.

Then again, he won a Grade 2 at a one-turn mile over the Churchill track last year, so perhaps I shouldn't be so flippantly dismissive of his chances lest I feel silly later on!

- LATG Stable update: Foolish Bid runs today for Kasey K Racing Stable as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the 5th at Philly Park. You just have to look at the pp's to see why I think he's going to win. I'd like to tell you what's up with Just Zip It, but I don't know. She was reported to have just a slight bit of heat in the foot from which she threw a shoe in her last race. But there's been no more news forthcoming from Castle Village; and that's the frustration of participating in these public stables. So let's hope that she's OK.

On the ex-stable side, Highland Cat is entered in the 7th on opening day at Calder on Monday. He's become a real game performer since we cut him loose, especially since he was subsequently claimed by trainer Norman Pointer; a fruitful purchase to be sure. I think he has a real shot in this race despite drawing the outside ten post. He's most competitive on figs, and he finished in front of morning line favorite Fly With the Wind in his last race. In that contest, he was twice steadied - once on the turn, and another time midstretch, and he finished absolutely full of run for 4th. And each of the three horses that finished in front of him that day would be clear favorites in this field, in my opinion. So I'll be playing him on Monday, and I surely hope that he goes off in the vicinity of his 8-1 morning line.


Anonymous said...

Nary a mention of Pyro, gotta love it, hope the main stream media ignores him too, but his odds took a hit with defection of War Pass, with whom I was not the least bit concerned.

Anonymous said...

blue lion today.highland cat can't hang with alw.

Michael said...

Anonymous, I'm going to guess that there wasn't a mention of Pyro because a) he didn't work and b) Alan was talking about pace setters, something Pyro isn't.

Anyway, right now Bob Black Jack is on the outside looking in at number 23 on the list...
if both fillies go he'll need Adriano, Behindatthebar, and Salute the Sarge to all pass to make it to 20th...

Anonymous said...

very game win for foolish bid.
he had to hold off a big challenge in the stetch.
philly paper had him top pick of the day
he was even money favorite.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone really surprised that Zito has had another top class animal break down.
For every Zito media success story, it is a reality that his barn is known ( by NY horsemen) for destroying more talented animals then one can count.
Give a good trainer his 2 year olds and watch out.
This latest fiasco is just par for the course and nothing new.

Anonymous said...

He looked like he was breaking down in the Wood when he was on that right lead for last 3/8ths, yet Zito said how good he ran and how great he came out.
Guess it took him little time to realize something was somewhat amiss at Tampa Bay.
He's the man - Brooklyn Nick

Anonymous said...

i am not at all a zito fan, his noble causeway debacle i thought made him look rather foolish. but in saying this i cant see anybody else doing any better with his stock then he does. he may be a butcher but that is the game like it or not.

Anonymous said...

I read a very interesting article a few days ago in a weekly Vegas publication called Gaming Today. It's written by Ed Golden (who compiles the stable notes for the Santa Anita website), and he interviewed 3 Derby-winning jocks (Pincay, Stevens, Eddie D.) and asked them what it takes to win the Derby, and who they like. They all listed Big Brown at the top, and Stevens went so far as to say, "Big Brown can rate. He's done it in the's just not an issue. His biggest concern, like everyone else's, is getting a good start."

Anonymous said...

Zito, Zito, Zito.....he did get Najran to run a hole in the wind on Opening Day at Belmont a few years back.

He also had a positive.

Pletcher had a positive. Served lots of days.

Asmussen had a positive. Or two. Served 6 months! Gets Horse of The Year, Curlin, to win in Dubai. But, Curlin is just a great horse with your nameless trainer at the helm.

By the way, Matties, the trainer, who was banned from NYRA was heard to have been part of a syndicate that won about HALF A MILLION on three races!

Gotta love this sport. Well, if you have the inside scoop.

How is Patrick Biancone's vacation going? Is he collecting some snakes in Arizona? Or sunning himself on the French Riviera?

One of Biancone's former owners, though isn't he still part of --- Gulf Coast Farms?? They won the last today at Keeneland. Pletcher trained. A fun game -- for some.

Big Brown's trouble may come from Desormeaux. He will need to nurse his speed, and Kent D. is not the greatest on the lead.

Anonymous said...

Rating in the morning is not the same are rating the first saturday in may with 150,000 screeming fans on both sides of the track.

Unless he goes 49 for the first half, he is not getting 10f anyway. And they never go that slow in the Derby, there is always someone out there flying.

Can't wait to get against him.

As for Zito, the horse hardly "broke down", he was injured, happens to athletes in all sport all the time.

Would rather have him training my Derby candidate than 0-forever Pletcher.

Anonymous said...

How Zito did not realize something was wrong with that beautiful horse after Tampa - and then watched him run on the wrong lead around the last turn in the Wood to get beat by a nobody who could at least get the distance as he staggered home and still had the nerve to take him to Kentucky, makes for one remarkable horseman.
And yes, injuries are part of this game - not his fault - but to take him to Kentucky -
I was not there but I would wager his groom knew he was not right after both races.

Anonymous said...

It should be obvious from the FD that BB can get 10F. If he had galloped out in 14 seconds, his 10F time would have beaten Street Sense last year. And that was off a very fast pace from a very bad post, all that weaving, and under largely a hand ride under the wire. Is there any doubt that, with a clean trip, BB can get around CD in 2:01? That'll win most derbies (doesn't mean he will, of course).

And before you say that they had the track paved on FD day, just reflect on what they do to the Churchill surface on KD day.