Saturday, August 7, 2010

Best Pal Stakes (G-2)

Last year’s Best Pal Stakes (G-3) hero Lookin At Lucky continued on to earn division honors as Champion Two Year Old Colt. As a three year old, he matured into a Classic winner and recently trounced other three year olds in the Haskell Invitational Stakes.

clip_image002This year, J P's Gusto (Successful Appeal – Call her Magic, by Caller I.D.) will attempt to add another graded stakes race to his collection and extend his win streak to three. The game bay colt fought tenaciously through the stretch of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (G-3) to win by a neck over Western Mood. Previously, he set a stakes record in the Willard Proctor Memorial. The final time of 1:02.97 was a stakes record since the race was lengthened to 5 ½ furlongs in 2006. J P’s Gusto hails from a quality distaff family. He is a full brother to juvenile stakes placed Magic Appeal and he is also a half brother to stakes placed Kid Majic. Additionally his dam is a stakes winner over dirt and turf. She is a half sister to the dam of the Champion mare Proud Spell. J P's Gusto recorded a bullet work since his last race and appears to be ready to put forth his best effort.
In his second start, Comma to the Top (Bwana Charlie – Maggie’s Storm, by Stormy Atlantic) was defeated six lengths by Western Mood after leading most of the way in a five furlong race. He found maiden claimers easy pickings in his last start, drilling them by 8 ¾ lengths. Comma to the Top’s half sibling and dam were unplaced at two, but his dam is a half sister to stakes winner Yes He’s a Pistol. Trainer Peter Miller is 17% with the maiden to stakes winner angle.

A son of this year’s Freshman Sire Rockport Harbor,  Minutesandtouches (Rockport Harbor – Flexible Princess, by Honouclip_image002[7]r and Glory) finished third in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship after a slow start. His sire was undefeated in four starts at two, winning his debut at 5 ½ furlongs and also the Nashua (G-3) and Remsen (G-2). Minutesandtouches dam won both of her starts at two and was stakes placed at three. This distaff family has produced General Assembly and several other notable winners. The pretty gray Minutesandtouches is still a maiden but he should appreciate the longer distance of the Best Pal.

clip_image002[9]Western Mood (West Acre – True Mood, by Deputy Minister) went four wide and was out finished by J P’s Gusto in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship. His sire, an unraced son of Forty Niner out of a Claiborne Farm bred mare, is a ¾ brother to Grade 1 winner Preach (dam of major sire Pulpit) and Yarn, dam of British Two year old Champ, Minardi, and granddam of dual Two Year Old Champ Johannesburg. Western Mood is a half brother to Tropical Park Derby winner Fly By Phil. Grade 1 Juvenile winner Afternoon Deelites was produced from this female family. Western Mood is another colt who should enjoy the extra real estate of the Best Pal Stakes.
clip_image002[11]Sway Away (Afleet Alex – Seattle Shimmer, by Seattle Slew) tries Polytrack after winning his debut over the Pleasanton dirt. His half sister won two of three starts at two. Although his second dam is a minor stakes winner, this distaff family is modest. The farther they go, the better for Sway Away as both his sire and damsire are Classic winners and his second damsire Summer Squall was also a Classic winner. Sway Away’s works over the synthetic surfaces have been decent and the Bonde barn is 15% with dirt to synthetic winners.
River's Chapel (Chapel Royal – Summer Band, by Dixieland Band) lead the Hollywood Juvenile Championship field through fast early fractions, but faded to sixth, beaten by over 12 lengths at the finish. By last year’s leading Freshman Sire, River's Chapel shows two average works since that race. His immediate distaff family is durable but modest. His second dam is a half sister to multiple graded stakes warrior Life’s Hope.

How the track is playing: Stalkers are winning over 50% of the races while front runners wire the field 31% of the time.
River's Chapel is the true speed in the race and he will likely go to the lead like he did last time out. J P's Gusto, Comma to the Top and Sway Away have shown that they can sit off the lead. Minutesandtouches and Western Mood should benefit from the track bias and come running at the end.
Western Mood
J P's Gusto