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Thursday, August 21, 2008


1) Tale of Ekati (20-1) - Well, we've come a long ways to nowhere with this colt since his electrifying win at Belmont in the Futurity last fall. I was on the Derby bandwagon after he burst through to victory in a final furlong of 11 3/5. Unfortunately, such a win at seven furlongs guarantees nothing regarding longer distances. The fact is that this son of Tale of the Cat has run his two fastest races - though only a top Beyer of 95 - in sprints - the Futurity, and a second place finish to Ready's Image in the six furlong Sanford here at Saratoga. So, why not the seven furlong King's Bishop rather than stretching him out to a mile and a quarter?

2) Colonel John (8-1) - It's cool that WinStar and trainer Eoin Harty are shipping the SA Derby winner east for this race. It would be cooler if his return in the Swaps wasn't so disappointing, with no sign of the strong closing kick he'd shown before. And there is of course that nagging question of his handling natural dirt. Still, his Swaps was a career best Beyer, and he wouldn't have to move forward off that too much to be competitive here...if any of that means anything going synth to dirt. Whatsmore, it was a four horse field, which might have prompted Garrett Gomez to take his colt out of his game by being too close to what was a pretty good clip. That won't happen here, and this son of Tiznow, who's worked steadily since that last effort, would be an intriguing middle long shot at his morning line of 8-1 or more.

3) Da'Tara (8-1) - The Belmont winner will likely go for the lead from his inside post, but, by golly, Nick Zito may once again see another horse dare to send his horse too! The nerve! Tizbig has some strong Moss pace figures, and it's possible that Zito's horse will once again not have things his own way. He had a nice pattern of improvement going into the Jim Dandy, but I can't possibly support this son of Tiznow here after a 24 length Jim Dandy loss, even if he was lone speed.

4) Tizbig (30-1) - Hey, three Tiznow sons lined up in a row, like a little family reunion. All that friendly stuff ends once they go into the gate of course. As mentioned above, Tizbig has run fast early of late, most recently just this past Sunday when he was second to Numaany in a race I thought was awful. Despite the fact that Allen Jerkens' colt battled to a game second, he was essentially done after three quarters, slowing to a quarter of 26.15 and staggering home in 14 seconds. Six days later at a mile and a quarter, c'mon Chief, get real. Still, I'm thinking (and hoping) that he's an early factor

5) Macho Again (6-1) - I was positive that this was a one turn horse before the Preakness; he ended up busting up all my exactas and triples. But I wrote that off as a case of him merely passing those who tangled early with Big Brown. Then he rebounded from his Belmont by winning the Jim Dandy in a career best Beyer of 102. Still, at a mile and a quarter, I'll stick to my original instincts regarding the son of Macho Again Uno.

6) Cool Coal Man (15-1) - I'm trying to remember exactly why I liked this horse against Big Brown in the Haskell. Sure, I had this bad feeling about Big Brown which persisted until around the sixteenth pole. But was it because the son of Mineshaft won the five horse Spend A Buck, edging the mighty Atoned? Because he's never come home faster than 13 1/5? Because I'm a big Nick Zito fan? Not quite sure what I was thinking, but I won't make the same mistake again.

7) Amped (30-1) - Another Zito/La Penta horse? Seems like they have as many Travers entries as John McCain has houses. OK, well, they seem to have settled on eight. So I guess not that many. This one may seem outclassed, but that never stops Nick. No matter that he lost four lengths in the stretch to Mambo in Seattle at a mile and an eighth, taking a significant step backwards in his first and only dirt race around two turns. It's Nick Zito, so throwing darts and spotting horses where they don't belong has to be good for the game, right?

8) Harlem Rocker (4-1) - Really, 4-1? I hope so, because I'm leaving him out entirely. Stronach and Handride's son of Macho Uno caused a stir opening his career with three straight wins, including his smashing Withers win, beating subsequent dual stakes winner J Be K. His flop in the Plate Trial, his two turn debut, could be attributed to the Poly at Woodbine. His subsequent win in the Fort Erie, against questionable competition and a favorite trying dirt for the first time, earned only a 90 Beyer. And he's another son of Macho Uno with a miniscule Tomlinson number for this distance trying a mile and a quarter.

9) Mambo in Seattle (5-1) - Y'know how some races, you can just quickly scan the past performances and come up with a clear choice after just a cursory glance? That's what happened with me and Mambo in Seattle in the Travers. As opposed to all of the tired names in this race that we've seen fall by the Triple Crown wayside, this classically bred son of Kingmambo has steadily rounded into top class form. He famously ran faster in a restricted stakes on Jim Dandy day then the centerpiece race itself, earning a 104 Beyer which is the best fast track two-turn number in the field. He's certainly reminiscent of his trainer Neil Howard's Grasshopper, who came into this race last year with similar improving form. However, Mambo in Seattle has more experience than that one did, and he won't find the likes of Street Sense here. Out of the stakes placed Seattle Slew mare Weekend in Seattle, a daughter of Weekend Surprise and thus a half to AP Indy and Summer Squall, this colt should thrive at the distance. This is the only horse in the race I can say that with confidence.

10) Tres Borrachos (15-1) Beau Greeley's colt ships in after his Swaps performance which proved he can stalk and rally successfully. There's not much speed between he and Tizbig/Da'Tara, so that could earn him a nice spot behind those two. He's another distance question mark, and was just OK in his two dirt tries. But he seems to have improved since those races, and looks like value possibility for the minor slots.

11) Pyro (7-2) Funny to think back now to his Risen Star in which he closed from far back despite a crawling pace and a quick run home. Remember Randy Moss and his digital timer getting his last quarter in like eight seconds or something? And the debate over whether that meant more than the slow 90 Beyer? Can you believe how much we overanalyze everything before the Derby? I was amongst those who discounted his final figure, and, I dunno, who was right? If you throw out his Polytrack Blue Grass and his no-show Derby, he's progressed steadily Beyer-wise since then with his 101's in his last two. However, his win over a weak Northern Dancer field, and his dismal failure to run down Macho Again in the Jim Dandy are not the things of the greatness that some of us felt his Risen Star portended. Standing against him solidly for top honors here.

12) Court Vision (12-1) This IEAH runner has disappointed ever since his three-year old debut. Or maybe ever earlier if you consider his anemic 76 Beyer in the Remsen. His only rally of note on the Derby Trail was his third in the miserable Wood that was easily discounted. Nice second at this distance in the G2 Virginia Derby on the grass. But he's never run faster than a 90 on the dirt, and with Mott having an awful Saratoga, it's hard to picture much improvement here.

Picks: Mambo in Seattle, Colonel John, Pyro, Tres Borrachos


Patrick said...

here's my hope, a good showing in the travers followed by a skip of the BC, and a big win in the Cigar mile, he dominates one turn miles, if he wins we'll have to go to the BC, i just hope they get a work over the strip if that's what they decide to do

Anonymous said...

I remember reading similar remarks about Macho Uno's father, Holy Bull before the 1994 Travers and was well pleased to be paid and watch D. Wayne Lukas and Nick Zito (who MADE the remarks) try and figure out the exact number of lengths (in dozens) their horses were vanquished by.

The lesson is IGNORE THE TRIPLE CROWN when looking at late summer 3 year olds and look instead to overall quality, versatility and pedigree.

Macho Uno is not only the son of Horse of the Year, Holy Bull (13 for 15 before breaking down in the Donn, began his career with a triple digit beyer, ran 113 or above EIGHT times with a 122 top,) but also the son of Primal Force, who won 4 of 6 by a combined THIRTY lengths AND produced TWO-TIME Breeder's Cup Classic Winner, Awesome Again...

Which at 1 1/4 Miles!

I had Macho Again for the sweet exacta in the Preakness and, if you watch the tape objectively...far from passing tired horses, he is overcoming trouble and striding powerfully past the wire at 1 3/16 (I know...I said ignore the triple crown!). He has the brilliant turn of foot that dominated the Derby Trial and the resiliency that overcame trouble in the Dandy and the Preakness and, really, his only disappointment was in Da Tara's jog in the Belmont (can't happen in the Travers).

You should look more deeply or be prepared to have those exactas and trifectas joining the pile you made in the Dandy.

Anonymous said...

Every year, folks tout the invaders, every year the winner of the Travers emerges from the Jim Dandy.

Macho Again, Pyro, Harlem Rocker, Mambo in Seattle (same day as Jim Dandy has to count for something).

I am intrigued by Tres Borrachos who I will need to add to some exotics, great name and human interest story.

Quite the party on Caroline Street if he wins.

Mr. Ed

Anonymous said...

1,3,4,6,7,12 are automatic throw outs, so even though this is touted as great betting race the odds will be very skewed and the exotics shorter than anticipated unless one of those hit the board.

Forget the ML's, which have been illogical at the Spa this year.

There should be six horses from 3-1to 8-1 with the remainder greater than 20-1 (40-1 if the trainers of the throw outs were not so popular).

Believe Mambo and Harlem will vie for favoritism.

El Angelo said...

Mr. Ed: All due respect, that's not hard and fast. Yes, the last three winners came from the Jim Dandy, but before that, 3 of the prior 4 didn't (Birdstone, Ten Most Wanted & Point Given, while Medaglia d'Oro did). However, the last winner to not come from either the Jim Dandy, Haskell or Belmont was Deputy Commander in 1997. Can't say that augurs well for the Cali shippers.

Anonymous said...

Tale of Ekati

first or second....a must use in all exotics.

in my opinion

Anonymous said...

el a, good point, but while i do not have the facts in front of me believe the four year period you select is the exception to my rule.

Thunder Rumble began my belief in this method, and since that time I win way more than I lose with this method.

The complicating factor now is NYRA adding a prep on the date of the Jim Dandy, not sure what to do with Mambo. While his pure race time was a tick faster than the Jim Dandy, the class of the field is not comparable and the track was changing during the day so I am now leaning to tossing him, mostly because he will be an underlay. After all, he was all out to beat allowance level competition and now draws outside in by far the toughest field he has faced.

I am against him and will use Colonel John instead.

Mr. Ed