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The Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of two-year-olds is typically pretty high-class, but was anybody expecting the dirt track and turf course at Palm Meadows to light up the way it did in the under tack show? On the dirt, a More Than Ready filly went an eighth of a mile in :9 3/5 (that’s nine and three-fifths seconds, you didn’t read wrong) and two youngsters, a Stevie Wonderboy filly and an Empire Maker colt, each went a quarter in :21 3/5. On grass, a Medaglia d’Oro colt zipped his eighth in :9 4/5, while a colt from the first crop of English Channel made the course his own through a quarter of :20 4/5. He is out of a GIII winner and half-brother to another GIII winner. English Channel is, of course, the record holder for widest margin of victory in the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf, won in 2007.

The More Than Ready filly and the English Channel colt completed times that many say might be unprecedented at the F-T under tack show. I wish I had the resources to find out if that’s true.

You can watch many of the show blowouts here. And since I’m such a spaz about Hard Spun babies, Hip 59 (half to GI winner Sinister Minister) went an eighth in :10 3/5, Hip 67 in :9 4/5 (whoo!), Hip 113 was withdrawn, Hip 171 in :10 1/5, Hip 198 in :11 flat while on the wrong lead for most of the way, Hip 204 in :10 4/5, Hip 222 in :10 3/5, and Hip 228 was withdrawn.

In other news, Steve Haskin’s latest Derby Dozen. My opinions essentially mirror his, with the exception that I thought Soldat’s final time, given the comparisons that could be made to earlier races on the card (specifically the “key” allowance won by Arch Traveler), was exquisite. I also seem to think much better of Brethren than he does, but in February, them’s all details.

EDIT: OMFG found my new favourite horse in the sale, and it’s Hip 46, by English Channel out of the Real Quiet mare So Soulful. Now, normally I don’t like Mr. Prospector over Mr. Prospector crosses, and the D rating on TrueNicks is dismal, but the sire’s sire and the dam’s dam have produced multiple graded stakes winner Twilight Meteor and this is the family of Primaly, Poetically and Citronnade, so I’m willing to look past a couple of minor pedigree glitches to see the big picture, which is a beautiful animal with a generous stride and the enviable apparent tendency to put his head down and motor in deep stretch. Gorgeous. The lead change will come later, with time and education; he’s got everything I like to see in a February sale: smooth, natural movement, and an inclination to run. He also did it all without blinkers, something that has always intrigued me when I see it in very young two-year-olds simply because it suggests maturity of the mind.

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Little Mike surprised the GIII Canadian Turf Stakes with his second graded upset of the Gulfstream meet. Meanwhile, Nicanor lost a nose bob for fourth in his first start since November. It was generally a good performance from Barbaro’s full brother, all things considered. I really wish Matz would actually campaign him consistently so we might be able to see what he can do.

In other news, Rogue Romance has been confirmed on track for the GII Louisiana Derby and Soldat is pointing for the GI Florida Derby, for which he will be the likely favourite after his stunning performance in the GII Fountain of Youth. Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo once again put in an impressive work in tandem, posting the identical bullet time of 1:00 3/5 for five panels. Stay Thirsty is set to make his season debut in the GIII Gotham Stakes next weekend. Finally, John Sadler put a little bit of bottom into Twirling Candy, seeing the colt through a seven-furlong work in 1:25.

GOOD NIGHT.


I’m exhausted, emotionally and psychologically. I’m in one of those states of mind when you’d think I’d just want to let today go for posting on the blog, do the weekend recap all in one go tomorrow, and yyyyeeeet… Gulfstream was just a hive of awesome today. You know the racing’s been good when my mood is so dramatically and instantaneously improved by a trio of spectacular performances (actually, more than just three, but we’ll talk about that later) by very, very good horses.

It began with the GII Davona Dale Stakes, which proved to be everything R Heat Lightning wanted. The Trippi filly, winless since Saratoga, had always shown just a little something in her defeats that made you not want to throw her out just yet… and today, she put all those little somethings together into one knockout. Dancinginherdreams still hasn’t gone off my radar despite an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance which I, quite frankly, am pinning on whoever it was who decided to put her so close to the pace (although I can sort of understand giving it a shot considering the track’s recent love affair with frontrunners). However, you can’t ignore that R Heat Lightning dominated Dreams, as well as Pomeroys Pistol, who ran very gamely to finish third, about a head back from the place. My top Kentucky Oaks contenders as of now are: Kathmanblu on top, followed by Zazu, R Heat Lightning and Dancinginherdreams. Turbulent Descent is still in the game despite the loss to Zazu (the first of her career), as well.

The GII Hutcheson Stakes turned into the coming out party for Flashpoint, a phyiscally impressive son of very promising young sire Pomeroy. Out of the gate at 6-1, he was the only horse willing to challenge 3-5 favourite Travelin Man in a wicked speed duel that carried the pair through a half mile in :44 and change. Still locked in combat around the turn, Flashpoint gradually edged away on Travelin Man’s outside, and when they banked into the stretch, the race was over. The huge, grey colt launched an all-out assault on the empty racetrack in front of him, winning by 7 1/4 widening lengths. Put another tick in that overpopulated three-year-olds-with-scary-speed box. Little Drama was impressive in his graded stakes debut, defying the speed bias to close a lot of ground and grab the show money at odds of 50-1. GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Big Drama’s little brother, whose sire Burning Roma’s stakes winning progeny can be counted on one hand, will be fun to watch later on.

And finally, the GII Fountain of Youth was a revelation. Well… not so much for some people, who totally called it (i.e. me, gloat gloat… and the entire betting public, which made the winner the slight favourite, but a girl can gloat when she pleases). To Honor and Serve ran a very good race considering he was coming back off such a long layoff, at nine furlongs and against such talented company; his third-place finish is no disgrace and he has every right to move up next go. Gourmet Dinner outran my expectations yet again, suggesting that maybe I should take him a little more seriously despite the silliness of his name. Meanwhile, Soldat may be a freak of nature. The War Front colt once again manhandled his competition, disposing of To Honor and Serve with such condescension that I’m not convinced the son of Bernardini could have gone by on his best day. The margin of victory was only two lengths, but it might as well have been the circumference of the racetrack. Welcome to the favourites’ club, Soldat.

And just to prove to you the extent to which these three winners amaze me, let’s have a look at their final times, in comparison to other races run today at Gulfstream. R Heat Lightning completed her mile in 1:36.25, compared to 1:38.05 for maiden three-year-olds in a special weight earlier on the card. Flashpoint sizzled seven furlongs in 1:22.03; maiden claimers went the distance in 1:23.95, nearly two full seconds slower. Finally, Soldat’s dominating victory was timed in 1:50.23. The time for an earlier allowance race featuring Arch Traveler and Nacho Business, the colt who beat Fountain of Youth fourth-place finisher Bowman’s Causeway in his debut, was 1:52.36. Yeah, you read right. More than two seconds.

One final tidbit of the evening, before I run off to cheer like a retard at the TV (Carolina Hurricanes @ Montreal Canadiens. Shut up, I’m a Montrealer, it’s practically mandatory): how about Trippi for a stallion I bet his owners wished they didn’t sell to South African breeders? The former leading Florida sire had one winner (R Heat Lightning) and two runners-up (Gourmet Dinner and Travelin Man) in the day’s three graded stakes for three-year-olds.

My only complaint, on the whole? That folks really ought to learn how to pronounce Soldat’s name. Oh, and that Flashpoint is trained by Rick Dutrow, but hey, his career is in jeopardy and saying that still hasn’t gotten old.


MY GOODNESS, WHEN DID IT GET SO LATE?

Oh, well. Not that much news today, anyway. I had planned on a more elaborate preview of the GII Davona Dale, featuring Dancinginherdreams vs. Pomeroys Pistol vs. R Heat Lightning round three, but that’s basically all I had to say about it anyway. Other than, y’know, Dreams is going to kick arse. Which she is. With the added distance, my favourite filly is going to mow that Pistol down. Muahaha.

The other bit of news is that Crossbow, one of the many speed horses entered in the seven-furlong GII Hutcheson Stakes, is likely to scratch and go instead in the one-mile GIII Gotham Stakes next weekend. The Gotham is expected to feature Stay Thirsty, who was second in the GI Hopeful Stakes last summer and is better-known as Pletcher and Repole’s “Other Horse,” as well as Whirlaway Stakes winner Toby’s Corner.

Other than that, Twilight Meteor vs. Nicanor is the big heartstring-related story in the GIII Canadian Turf (ironically run at Gulfstream in Florida), Devil May Care still hasn’t quite recovered from non-contagious equine hepatitis, and Summer Bird’s got his first mare in foal, and it’s Love Tunnel, the dam of two graded performers. Also Dutrow appears to be ignoring the fact that his career may be in jeopardy (kajhdsgja;slkdg that is still so satisfying to be able to say) and wants to send I Want Revenge to the Dubai World Cup. He hasn’t gotten an invite yet, though, so the backup plan for the GI winning son of Stephen Got Even is the GII Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 12th.


Updated Kentucky Derby top ten after last weekend:

1. To Honor and Serve
Though he hasn’t made a start yet this season, Bernardini’s most promising first-crop colt made serious waves winning the GIII Nashua and GII Remsen Stakes straight off of his maiden win at Belmont–a win which came, not surprisingly, the first time he stretched out to two turns. He makes his 3yo debut this Saturday in the GII Fountain of Youth Stakes against a very deep field, and should he win, his hold on the number one spot will become an iron grip.

2. Brethren
The half-brother to 2010 Derby winner Super Saver has done nothing wrong in three career starts, winning his six-furlong debut in sparkling time as a two-year-old (a feat almost unheard-of for a Distorted Humor colt, let alone one out of an A.P. Indy mare) followed by an impressive victory over El Grayling and Justin Phillip in an allowance at Churchill Downs (far and away outperforming Santiva and Astrology, who were one-two in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes later on the card) and a visual stunner in the GIII Sam F. Davis Stakes for his seasonal debut. He didn’t beat much in the Sam Davis, but the manner of his victory suggests to me that it doesn’t matter much. He can show what he’s made of against better company in his next. Now that Uncle Mo’s being pointed for the ungraded Timely Writer Stakes on March 12, Brethren is likely to pop back up in the GII Tampa Bay Derby. Pletcher has indicated that Brethren will probably have two more preps before the Derby, which is just fine by me.

3. Uncle Mo
The juvenile champion has drawn comparisons to the very best the sport has ever seen, and with good reason: he’s almost supernaturally fast, so much better than the horses he faced that it’s almost laughable to compare them. Nevertheless, he’s never faced the majority on this list, and the feeling here is that Pletcher isn’t giving him the most advantageous of prep seasons. His scheduled appearance in the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream means that his first start as a three-year-old will come March 12th, more than four months after the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in which he was so impressive. The son of Indian Charlie might be a freak of nature, but even if he is, going into the first ten-furlong race of his career off of only two preps and having only run nine furlongs once, ever (in the GI Wood Memorial in April), doesn’t look to me like the best of plans.

4. Dialed In
I would actually be tempted to rate him higher than Mo but for the uncertainty in his schedule at this point. Nick Zito is a very smart man and an exceptional trainer, but the decision to bypass the GII Fountain of Youth off of concerns that the horse might bounce rubs me the wrong way. Now he’s got to find another race for him… and if he does, and gets this horse back on track, I’ll be inclined to eat my humble pie and never speak of this again, because this Mineshaft colt is good. He has to be, winning the GIII Holy Bull Stakes from the clouds in only his second career start. Honestly, if I hadn’t had his previous record on the screen in front of me, I wouldn’t have believed he was so inexperienced. It usually takes horses months to figure out how to do that, and he beat some very good horses.

5. Mucho Macho Man
Seven starts already, and this impressive Macho Uno colt won’t turn three until more than a week after the GI Belmont Stakes is in the books. From an unfashionable family, trained by small-time Kathy Ritvo, it took Mucho Macho Man to his third start to figure out the game, but when he did, he proved immediately ready for the best company. After defeating Bowman’s Causeway, among others, in his maiden win, ‘Macho was twice second to To Honor and Serve, in the Nashua and Remsen. Far too fresh in the GIII Holy Bull Stakes, he was wide throughout while pressing a tough pace and faded to fourth; he then shipped to the Fair Grounds and, only twenty days after the Holy Bull, ran off with the GII Risen Star Stakes for his first stakes victory. Make no mistake: this big baby is nowhere near done improving.

6. The Factor
Everybody knows by now about The Factor’s maiden blitz in November, in which he smoked the six furlong track record at Santa Anita in the otherworldly time of 1:06.98. For his encore, the son of War Front proved he’s no one-hit wonder: forced to go to the lead to avoid getting pinched by the speed horses on either side of him, the dark grey colt ruthlessly demolished his early rivals and held off Sway Away to take the GII San Vicente Stakes in 1:20.34, roughly two fifths of a second off Twirling Candy’s track record. Trainer Bob Baffert is expected to test the colt he’s called this year’s “cannon” for two-turn ability in the GIII Sunland Derby. I’m not too sure he’ll want the distance–at least, not until he’s got a lot more maturity–but watching him try will be exciting as all get out, and I’ll be rooting for him all the way.

7. Soldat
This Saturday’s GII Fountain of Youth Stakes represents a chance for War Front’s second son on the list to move up big time. After a career that has played out mostly on turf against very good company, Kiaran McLaughlin decided to try out his promising colt on dirt, and was rewarded with a victory of nearly eleven lengths in what had been considered a strong allowance race before Soldat made them all into mincemeat. We’ll know a lot more about him after he takes on To Honor and Serve in the GII Fountain of Youth, a race I believe he has a good chance at winning.

8. Santiva
I’ll admit, I was amongst those who thought his GII Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes victory was just too slow, especially in the light of Brethren’s much-faster victory earlier that day… but the son of Giant’s Causeway was right there at the finish of the GII Risen Star Stakes. If nothing else, that effort proved that Brethren might just be terrifyingly good, but after watching the replay obsessively a few hundred times, I honestly think that Santiva is just improving, and at exactly the right time. He has every right to step forward in his next start, whatever that may be, and I look forward to it.

9. Rogue Romance
Third in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his first start on dirt, this son of Smarty Jones showed a ton of promise and was the betting favourite in the GII Risen Star Stakes. However, traffic and what looked like the rusty gears of a long layoff conspired against him. He couldn’t extricate himself from a neat box on the turn, and by the time he did get in the clear, couldn’t get motoring quickly enough to be a factor at the finish. Still, he finished strongly and willingly, and is another that should move up the next time he runs.

10. Stay Thirsty
Uncle Mo’s stablemate seems destined to remain in the champion’s shadow–for now. He’s been consistently putting in faster times on the training track than Mo has, and with a scheduled start in the GIII Gotham Stakes looming, the son of Bernardini will have his chance to steal the spotlight. A second-out winner at Saratoga last summer, he was a respectable second to Boys at Toscanova in the GI Hopeful Stakes and completed his season finishing fifth in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 13-1 odds. He was very wide in the Juvenile, but was also just plain beaten by the horses in front of him. It’s his maiden win, second in the Hopeful and recent training record that light the signal fires concerning this colt.

Honorable mentions to Astrology, Jaycito, Toby’s Corner, Archarcharch and J P’s Gusto. Astrology and Jaycito are probable for the GII San Felipe March 12th (damnable two-prep schedules, I loathe them so); Toby’s Corner recently won the Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct (his freakishly fast sire Bellamy Road’s favourite racetrack) and awaits the visit of Stay Thirsty for the GIII Gotham Stakes; Archarcharch and J P’s Gusto ran one-two in the GIII Southwest Stakes and need a better measure of their class before they’re considered among the top contenders.


So, first thing’s first: a female Horse of the Year was bred for the second time this week. Zenyatta went to Bernardini just this morning. That means both she and Rachel Alexandra will be due to have their first foals, each by Eclipse champions, late January 2012. Mark your calendars!

The key word in the GII Hutcheson Stakes will be speed, speed, speed, speed and more speed. Crossbow, Madman Diaries, Travelin Man, Razmataz and Flashpoint each displayed freakish early foot, perhaps the most freaksih from Travelin Man, who earned a 1:03 Beyer while running six furlongs in 1:09.09 in his debut. Meanwhile, Tampa-based Manicero kept alive a four-race win streak in the Pasco Stakes last out, and Big Drama’s half-brother Little Drama already has a 9 1/2-length stakes win under his belt. Exiting last month’s GIII Holy Bull Stakes will be Leave of Absence, a closer who will love all the early pace, and Black N Beauty, who also has speed but should be able to take off the pace. I love Manicero, Little Drama and Black N Beauty in here; Crossbow is another favourite but with all the speed he’ll need to show another dimension to be a factor.

Now, on to the main event, which is just so exciting I might turn inside out from being bombarded with awesome. The magnificent To Honor and Serve heads an outstanding field for the GII Fountain of Youth Stakes, his first start since holding off recent GIII Risen Star Stakes winner Mucho Macho Man in the GII Remsen Stakes last November. Before that, he was so impressive in the GIII Nashua Stakes that he prompted one of Tom Durkin’s quirky stretch calls–the kind reserved for the really, really good ones: “Jose Lezcano gives him his cue–he’s gone. Good. Bye.” The Nashua and Remsen were won on the lead, but the son of Bernardini broke his maiden stalking the pace at Belmont, proving that he doesn’t need it if somebody else wants to go early.

Either way, it won’t be a cakewalk for To Honor and Serve. Leading his challengers is Soldat (that’s Sole-DAH, not SOLE-dat), who won a graded stakes on the turf and was second in the GII Pilgrim Stakes and GII Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (both on grass) before trainer Kiaran McLaughlin decided to try him out on dirt. The result was a muddy allowance romp by nearly eleven lengths. The son of War Front been training like a freak since, including a :47 3/5 half most recently.

Gourmet Dinner, who surprised the field in the GIII Delta Jackpot Stakes before running consecutive thirds in the GI CashCall Futurity and GIII Holy Bull Stakes (in his season debut), will also take a shot. Ramon Dominguez will be picking up the mount for the first time.

Shackleford, Casper’s Touch and El Grayling, the trifecta from the allowance race that two years ago produced Quality Road, will also line up for their stakes debuts. Shackleford, a son of Forestry, was extremely green during the stretch drive but won by 2 1/4 lengths regardless; Casper’s Touch suffered horrific traffic but never gave up, closing ground in the final sixteenth; El Grayling, who was beaten a nose for the place, has been slowly and consistently improving for some time, and his record includes a second-place finish to the highly-touted GIII Sam F. Davis winner Brethren. Casper’s Touch and El Grayling are by Touch Gold and El Prado, respectively.

Bowman’s Causeway impressed a lot of people with his from-the-clouds maiden victory, but he’ll be pretty much tossed to the sharks in this one and will rely on a hot pace to be able to uncork his move. Still, the Ontario-bred son of Giant’s Causeway showed immense promise while winning by a length over nine furlongs, and it would hardly be a surprise to see him pick up the pieces late.

I like Soldat to seriously threaten if not beat To Honor and Serve here. He’s got the advantage of already having a victory here this season and has been training like a horse ready to fire, while To Honor and Serve hasn’t started since November. The Bernardini colt may turn out to be better than Soldat in the end (or he might not–we never know), but Soldat has more foundation, more recently. Casper’s Touch, who has already traveled the world and run very well against some very good horses, wouldn’t surprise me if he finished just behind them.


The bad:

Uncle Mo’s two Derby preps appear to be chosen: the GI Wood Memorial Stakes, preceded by the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream March 12th. You read right. Not only will Mo be running only twice before his Derby date, his first outing will be in an ungraded race. Want to talk about coddling?

Dialed In won’t be running in the GII Fountain of Youth; Robert LaPenta and Nick Zito have decided to find another prep for the GI Florida Derby. For the record, if they can’t find one, that’ll make the Florida Derby the colt’s third career start (if they go that route), and the Kentucky Derby potentially his fourth. Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall and sob. Why, Zito? I thought you knew what you were doing!

The only man on the planet slimier than Rick Dutrow may be his lawyer, who called the plea for a review of Dutrow’s training license “unfounded.” Honey, darling, Mr. Lawyer Man, your client has been cited for drug infractions in every state he’s ever run a horse, including Minnesota. Seriously, I hadn’t even known there was serious racing in Minnesota.

 

The good:

After a huge effort in the GII San Carlos Handicap, Smiling Tiger can once again smile down from the top. Breaking awkwardly, the usually front-running colt was forced to sit off the pace in last before uncorking an explosive move four paths out on the turn. The Tiger roared down the stretch and gradually ground down Captain Cherokee, who put in an exceptional effort of his own but couldn’t hold off the winner. Smiling Tiger blazed seven furlongs in 1:20.30. Not bad for a $40,000 yearling.

The Factor is a freak of nature, and Baffert’s going to give him a shot to stretch out in the GIII Sunland Derby. Having won in his second start in an eye-popping time of 1:06 4/5 for six furlongs, The Factor got a foot bruise and was taken out of training for a short period of time. He only had time to work twice before his scheduled appearance in the GII San Vicente Stakes–but Baffert had a few tricks up his sleeve. He put the colt through his paces for a seven-furlong work, and then another over six furlongs before the seven-furlong San Vicente, and the War Front colt paid him back with another sizzling effort in 1:20 1/5. Forced to go to the lead with two speed horses flanking him in the starting gate, The Factor destroyed City Cool and Premier Pegasus early (City Cool would finish dead last, barely staggering across the line) and then bolted to a commanding lead by mid-stretch. Sway Away, a beautiful Afleet Alex colt (out of a Seattle Slew mare, no less–meaning that his sire and damsire both won the Belmont), closed out of the clouds to come within 3/4 of a length of The Factor, but though he appeared to threaten the winner, he did not get by him in the gallop out. That bodes seriously well for The Factor giving a shot at two turns–and Bob Baffert has the Sunland Derby in his crosshairs. Baffert did say that the GII Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn was also a possibility, but that the race at Sunland was preferable.

The GIII Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds was, as expected, a huge prep. Mucho Macho Man finally lived up to the potential he’d been flashing since beginning his seven-race-so-far career–and couldn’t have been more impressive for a son of Macho Uno who won’t actually turn three until more than a week after the Belmont Stakes has been run (Steve Haskin, you dig up the neatest factoids). This year’s Cinderella story settled just off the pace and pounced at the top of the stretch, taking the lead there and gradually extending his advantage to the wire. Santiva silenced those who said he was “too slow” by rallying to finish a very good second in his first start of the season, while Rogue Romance, hindered by traffic around the final turn, made up a lot of ground after shaking free. Santiva and Rogue Romance both figure to improve in their next starts, while Mucho Macho Man has been improving steadily for some time and has no reason not to keep going. Among those whose form was seriously boosted by this trifecta, by the way, are Dialed In, Sweet Ducky, Gourmet Dinner (GIII Holy Bull trifecta, finished ahead of Mucho); Astrology (second to Santiva in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes); and Uncle Mo and Boys at Toscanova, if their form needed boosting (1-2 in the BC Juvenile, ahead of Rogue Romance). To Honor and Serve’s form was also boosted–he twice defeated Mucho Macho Man at the end of last season, in the GIII Nashua and GII Remsen Stakes.

Six horses lined up across the track at the head of the Oaklawn stretch, but Archarcharch proved the best of them when the GIII Southwest Stakes was in the books. The son of… uh, Arch (who else?) broke his maiden in his second start in a stakes at Fair Grounds (over six furlongs, far and away too short for his pedigree) before flattening and finishing fourth as the favourite in the Smarty Jones Stakes. But it looks like he’s found his form again, as his victory in the Southwest was exactly what you want to see in a Derby horse: settling midpack, moving big on the turn and opening up under pressure. J P’s Gusto and Elite Alex, second and third, also ran well: J P’s Gusto was making his first start of the season, got into a little traffic and was right there and gaining at the finish, though he never really looked like a winner; Elite Alex was very wide throughout, a product of drawing the 11-post, and flattened out accordingly in the stretch. It was valuable experience for all three horses, and it’ll be very interesting to watch the GII Rebel shape up, especially with the expected addition of a couple of shippers from California.

I can’t say it enough: Bourbon Bay vs. Champ Pegasus. Please to be happening many, many more times. And speaking of, they might be going to Dubai for the Sheema Classic. In fact, it’s possible they might both be going. kajsgkjadsgkasjdgkhakwiejtuahskdjbv

Even before the Risen Star had been run, the Fair Grounds was alive and buzzing: a three-year-old colt had just debuted in 1:08.80, more than a second faster than any of the four other six-furlong races on the card, the next-fastest of which was clocked by a graded stakes-performing older filly. And the track record is 1:08.03. His name is Bind, a son of Pulpit out of an Unbridled mare. A product of Claiborne and the team that brought you Blame, Bind was ridden by top Fair Grounds jockey Rosie Napravnik to the 9 1/2-length victory that earned him a 105 Beyer without the touch of the whip. Owners Seth Hancock and Adele Dilschneider and trainer Al Stall have all said that they’re immune to Derby fever, but that sure doesn’t mean you won’t be seeing Bind around. He looks like something special.

While we’re on the subject of Blame and Claiborne and Rosie and so on, Blame’s full sister Might finished second by a nose in her debut the day after Bind set Fair Grounds on fire. She ran like a horse that wants more ground, which is not surprising, given her pedigree. It’ll be fun to see where she pops up next.

Stay Thirsty, who has been working the same speed or faster than stablemate Uncle Mo, is on track for the GIII Gotham Stakes, in which he will run into local boy Toby’s Corner, a son of Bellamy Road–the horse who made his name winning the GI Wood Memorial with the biggest Beyer ever recorded by a three-year-old before the Derby. This should be fun.

Soldat was clocked going half a mile in :47 3/5 leading up to the GII Fountain of Youth. The feeling just keeps growing that he could be some kind of freak. By the way, even without Dialed In, the Fountain of Youth is coming up with so much awesome that I think I might explode from it. Soldat will be joined in the gate by Gourmet Dinner, Bowman’s Causeway, Casper’s Touch, Shackleford, and this horse by the name of To Honor and Serve you might have heard of. Bowman’s Causeway recently made mincemeat of a 9 furlong Gulfstream maiden race, while Shackleford and Casper’s Touch finished one-two in a stakes-calibre allowance, also at Gulfstream. All three have been turning heads for some time. Gourmet Dinner was a very good third in the GIII Holy Bull to Dialed In and Sweet Ducky and also went a half in :47 3/5 on February 16th, while To Honor and Serve… well.

Rachel Alexandra was mated to Curlin yesterday, and Zenyatta could go to Bernardini within the week.

 

The very, very good:

In July 2009, a colt by the name of Thorn Song was running in the GI Eddie Read Stakes when something went horribly wrong. He was catastrophically injured in the race, transported to a hospital and operated on, only to develop laminitis and watch his chances at survival dwindling. However, vets at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center and owner Ahmed Zayat gave him one last chance, and treated his laminitic feet with stem cell therapies. California researchers and veterinarians have been at the head of the stem cell movement for some time, and their hard work resulted in the recent announcement that Thorn Song, once all but written off as hopeless, has made a complete enough recovery that he will stand at stud at Harris Farms.


It’s right here: click click clickity click!

There’s all kinds of royalty in this book–horses from the female families of Dreaming of Anna, Lewis Michael, Justenuffhumor, Astrology, Dancinginherdreams, Creme Fraiche, Beethoven, Archipenko, Blame, Nureyev, La Traviata, Laragh, Indian Charlie, Curlin, Tiznow, Well Armed, Cigar, Sharp Humor, English Channel, California Flag, Blues Street, Shaniko, Dream of Summer, Dreams Gallore, Lion Heart, Connemara, Marino Marini, Malibu Mint, Sara Louise and High Limit, for a start.

I’m enough of a nerd to have gone through the entire catalogue and picked out my favourites, and then whittled those favourites down to just six horses that I would buy if I were filthy rich. They are:

Hip 40
Bay colt
Hard Spun x Pent
–Dam: Half to Archipenko (GI), Limit, Liable (dam of Blame)
–2nd dam: Half to Nureyev (GI)
NICK A+ (variant 4.39)

Hip 61–Bramley
Dark bay or brown filly
Dynaformer x Sharp Apple
— full to black type performer
–Dam: black type winner
NICK A++ (variant 41.40)

Hip 62
Bay colt
Smart Strike x Sherriff’s Deputy
–FULL TO CURLIN OMFG
NICK B+ (variant 2.40)

Hip 102
Chestnut colt
Smart Strike x Belva
–Full to English Channel (GI)
NICK A (variant 2.84)

Hip 114–Vionnet
Gray filly
Street Sense x Cambiocorsa
–Dam: Full to California Flag (GI)
NICK A++ (variant 11.98)

Hip 163
Chestnut filly
Malibu Moon x Ivory Mint
–Full to Malibu Mint (GI)
NICK A++ (Variant 11.89)

 

Oh, and by the way, a colt from Storm Cat’s last crop is also in the sale. He’s out of Halo American and a full sibling to Marino Marini.

So, if you’re enough of a nerd to go through the catalogue like I did, who are your favourites?

Hip 40
Bay colt
Hard Spun x Pent
–Dam: Half to Archipenko, Limit, Liable (dam of Blame)
–2nd dam: Half to Nureyev
NICK A+ (variant 4.39)

Hip 61–Bramley
Dark bay or brown filly
Dynaformer x Sharp Apple
–A++ Nick and complete outcross, full to black type

performer
–Dam: black type winner
NICK A++ (variant 41.40)

Hip 62
Bay colt
Smart Strike x Sherriff’s Deputy
–FULL TO CURLIN OMFG
NICK B+ (variant 2.40)

Hip 102
Chestnut colt
Smart Strike x Belva
–Full to English Channel
NICK A (variant 2.84)

Hip 114–Vionnet
Gray filly
Street Sense x Cambiocorsa
–Dam: Full to California Flag
NICK A++ (variant 11.98)

Hip 163
Chestnut filly
Malibu Moon x Ivory Mint
–Full to Malibu Mint (GI)
NICK A++ (Variant 11.89)


FAIR GROUNDS. RACE 8. TODAY. THERE IS THIS THING THAT IS HAPPENING.

It’s a six furlong maiden special weight for three-year-old fillies. The favourite is a first-time starter named Might, who’s just, I don’t know, Blame’s full sister. Also, Rosie Napravnik is riding her.

EXCUSE ME WHILE I EXPLODE.


At first glance, J P’s Gusto completely outclasses the ten other colts he faces in the GIII Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park tomorrow afternoon. After all, he’s the winner of the GI Del Mar Futurity, and the best thing any of these other horses have done is win a local listed prep stakes. And yet, he seems vulnerable. All of J P’s Gusto’s wins have come at sprint distances, and on synthetic surfaces. His sire, Successful Appeal, is not known for producing horses that love distance (though his son Closing Argument did finish second at 72-1 in Giacomo’s Derby). Even his damsire Caller I. D. was a two-year-old sprinter. In his lone try at a mile or longer, he finished second to Comma to the Top in the 8.5f GI CashCall Futurity, and he’s never even seen a traditional dirt track before.

So let’s have a look at the other runners in here.

Caleb’s Posse runs under the 122-pound high weight off of his recent victory in the Smarty Jones Stakes, the local prep for the Southwest. It’s difficult to know what to say about that race because the track was so foggy you literally couldn’t see half of it. Before that he bombed as the big favourite in the Springboard Mile… but since he came back to win the Smarty Jones, it’s easy to put a big, black line through the Springboard and go with the rest of his form, which is pretty good and on the improve. He finished third in the GIII Arlington-Washington futurity in his third start–that being only his first start at a distance greater than 5.5 furlongs. He then impressed with an allowance victory at Keeneland before the Springboard Mile flop. The Smarty Jones was his season debut.

Archarcharch is here, too, back for a second go at it after finishing fourth as the favourite in the Smarty Jones. He began his career with a second in a Churchill maiden special weight, and then came back less than a month later to break his maiden in the Sugar Bowl Stakes at the Fair Grounds. The Smarty Jones was his first race since, and my best guess was that he just wasn’t prepared for the jump up in distance quite yet. He’s by Arch, though, so logically it should be right up his alley.

The most intriguing horses here, though, may be those with no stakes experience whatsoever.

Yankee Passion is a Larry Jones trainee (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8D) with two wins and a second in three starts. His first two races were run at Del Mar before he was transferred to Oaklawn and Jones (!!! 8DDD) and won his dirt debut over six furlongs in 1:10.88, very good time for the track. Yankee Gentleman does have quite a few offspring successful at longer distances, and Yankee Passion’s dam, Pleasant Pat, is by Pleasant Colony, which should tell you all you need to know about the horse’s distance potential. I.e. there’s plenty of it to spare. The Larry Jones colt (eeeeeee) completed preparations for the race by going five furlongs in a bullet 1:01, fastest of 44 works at the distance. The breeze was good enough to convince Jones (kasdhgjdhgkajsl;kg) that he deserved a shot in the Southwest.

Finally, there’s Elite Alex. Those who follow Steve Haskin’s blogs should know that he’s been pretty high on this Ontario-bred son of Afleet Alex for some time. He broke his maiden in his debut at Delaware Park under Rosie Napravnik, and then disappeared for six months, reappeared at Oaklawn and ran second in a very tough allowance race at a mile. He’s an extremely intriguing horse–and he could act as a barometer for the talent level of Larry (I’m just so pleased he’s back) Jones’s other interesting three-year-old, Commander, who finished third in that allowance but couldn’t keep up when turned around two weeks later for another go.

In other news, Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty continue to work very, very well for Todd Pletcher, and I remain pissed off beyond all reason that Uncle Mo won’t have nearly the foundation required to pull off what he very well could have, had he been better prepared.

In other other news, Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus don’t get any less awesome after several hundred viewings.