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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saratoga Notes

Oh man, had to be an agonizing beat for anyone who had Zaskar on top in the Signature Stallion Stakes at Saratoga on Monday. The longest shot in the field of six at 10.60 to 1, this four-year old daughter of Anabaa (Danzig) took the lead from the start, and opened up as much as eight under Javier Castellano (off to a slow start, but victorious in the second on Proud Zoe for the Toddster...and check it out, look who's leading the training race as of this writing!) Castellano was able to moderate the pace of the mile and a half marathon, enough so that when the horse looked dead midstretch after being engaged by Queen of Hearts, Zaskar gave his backers hope, coming back on the inside with a late surge. Durkin thought he'd won it; he certainly seemed to have the momentum.

But the cameraman got it right on the gallop-out, and the replay clearly showed the misfortune of the head bob for some. Others were ecstatic with Queen of Hearts ($17.60), who took some money coming off a maiden win; daughter of Thunder Gulch was 15-1 in the morning line. It was the second win of the meeting, from seven starters, for trainer Jimmy Jerkens; and he's won with his two longest shots, this one and Sugar Trade ($22.60) on July 31.

In the first on Wednesday, Jerkens has the morning line favorite with Platinum (2-1), and this is a horse to take a stand against as the favorite on at least two fundamental principles - first time against winners, and first time at a route. In fact, she's stretching out from six furlongs to a mile and an eighth. I know the public goes for promising types like this with a field high Beyer of 85; but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if this three-year old daughter of Mineshaft is in fact not favored at post time.

But if she is, I'd take a shot on someone like Starship Angel (9-2) for McLaughlin, five for 23 (22%) plus two close seconds. She comes off two facile wins on mud against questionable fields around one turn at Belmont. But she's finished well around two turns on turf, comes into this off a brilliant series of works, and retains Ramon, who may have had another option in Dean Henry (5-1). That one had some good two-turn efforts on the inner track, albeit with slow figs. Last was much quicker at a mile at the Big A though, and this daughter of Empire Maker should appreciate the stretch-out to two turns, and could be on the improve for trainer Tom Albertrani.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Spa's second Wednesday is a very interesting 2yo race for males.

While short on quantity, it is the type of race that has a right to produce a serious race horse.

Six starters, one each from Pletcher, Zito, Lukas, McLAughlin, Assmussen and Kenneally all with top jocks aboard.

I'm betting this produces at least one top Derby contender.

Grand Strategy, the top seller from Eurosilver's first crop (already one impressive west coast winner), is getting much of the public handicappers' hype off both his sales price and impressive bullet workout, but in truth any of these could be the one.