Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nine Bullish Colts on the Derby Trail

The Holy Bull Stakes (G-3) has been run consecutively since 1993 for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. Two who succeeded in the Holy Bull/ Kentucky Derby double are Go For Gin (1994) and Barbaro(2006). Editor’s Note, second in the 1996 Holy Bull went on to win that year’s Belmont Stakes.
Gourmet Dinner - Photo: Coady
#1 GOURMET DINNER (Trippi - Potluck Dinner, Pentelicus) was the surprise winner of the Delta Jackpot (G-3) in November, but had no answer against an overpowering Comma To The Top in the Cash Call Futurity (G-1) Gourmet Dinner has speed top and bottom in his pedigree. Gourmet Dinner’s dam Potluck Dinner was unplaced in her only start, but has shined as a broodmare. All six of her foals to race are durable, sound winners. Her first foal, I’mroyalymecke’d, raced 55 times and was stakes placed. She also produced stakes winner Gaston A. Potluck Dinner is a half-sister to the sprint stakes winners Lady Gin and Sea Of Green. Another half-sister, Almost Aprom Queen, is the dam of 2010 Oak Leaf Stakes (G-1) winner Rigoletta. Gourmet Dinner has breezed strongly, including a recent bullet work over the Gulfstream surface.
Major Gain - Photo: Four Footed Fotos
#2 MAJOR GAIN (More Than Ready – Dream Lady, by Old Trieste) won the Arlington Washington Futurity, and was ½ a length third in a strong Santiva in the Kentucky Club Juvenile (G-2). Major Gain is the first foal from the graded stakes placed turf mare Dream Lady. He’s been working steadily at Gulfstream
#3 PRINTING PRESS (Tapit – Wonderstar, by Mountain Cat) won his debut by a neck and it was the last time that he’s visited the winner’s circle. He chased Black N Beauty around the Gulfstream oval in his 2011 debut, then had a strong work leading up to the Holy Bull. Printing Press’ dam is a full sister to the dam of San Raphael (G-3) winner El Gato Malo. The Pompay barn is 0-5 is in graded stakes competition.
#4 BLACK N BEAUTY (Devil His Due – Harbor Girl, by Boston Harbor) has won his last two races by a combined five lengths and takes on a stronger group here. He has a miler oriented pedigree and will likely be best up to 1 1/16 miles. His sire’s best known offspring is the multiple Grade 1 winner Roses in May. As a broodmare sire, Boston Harbor gets mainly sprinters, however, he is the damsire of West Virginia Derby (G-2) hero Concord Point who stretched his speed to 1 1/8 miles. Black N Beauty’s dam raced eight times and was successful once in a dirt sprint and she’s a half-sister to the multiple stakes winning turf mare Dynamite Lass. Second dam Lismore Lass was a stakes winner and a half-sister to the aforementioned Roses in May. Black N Beauty had an easy last work. The Romans barn gets 9% winner with horses making their second start in a route race.
#5 RIBO BOBO (Louis Quatorze – Private Prom Party, by Private Terms) was away last then widest of all on the last turn in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa. He has a stamina oriented dirt pedigree. Ribo Bobo’s sire has a handful of stakes winners, including Repent, Second of June and the FL Champion Three Year Old Filly, Bushfire. Ribo Bobo has a modest distaff family. His second dam was a listed stakes winner. Ribo Bobo had a nice work for this race, but the Azpurua barn is 0 for 14 in graded stakes contests this year.
#6 LEAVE OF ABSENCE (Harlan’s Holiday – Danseur Chaud, by Joyeux Danseur) is lightly raced and was a gaining second last time out in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream. His dam went 0 for six, but finished second once routing over the turf. She’s a half-sister to the Grade 2 winner Belle of Perintown. Leave of Absence has a couple of good breezes under his girth and should appreciate the extra distance. He has plenty of turf influences in his pedigree and may find a future on the turf if he shows nothing here.
Mucho Macho Man -Photo: Coglianese
#7 MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno – Ponche De Leona, by Ponche) was no match for To Honor And Serve in both of their meetings last year. Mucho Macho Man probably won’t want to go farther than 1 1/16 miles. His sire has a few winners at 1 1/8 miles, but produces mostly miler types. Mucho Macho Man’s dam and damsire are stakes winning sprinters. Mucho Macho Man has been working very strongly for his 2011 debut, but the Ritvo barn is 0 for 13 with shippers.
#8 SWEET DUCKY (Pulpit – Storm’s Darling, by Storm Boot) won consecutive stakes races over Monmouth’s speed-favoring surface last fall, but faltered in the 1 1/16 mile Delta Jackpot. Sweet Ducky’s dam was a multiple stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles and she’s a half-sister to a couple of stakes winning sprinters. Sweet Ducky will likely be at his best as a sprinter/miler. He’s recorded a string of lively works at Palm Meadows and his trainer Kelly Breen is on a roll at Gulfstream.
Dialed In - Photo: Reed Palmer
#9 DIALED IN (Mineshaft - Miss Doolittle, by Storm Cat) stormed from last place to win a sprint race at Churchill Downs last year, which is rare for the progeny of Mineshaft. He may take after his more precocious female family as he’s a half-brother to Astoria Stakes (5F) winner Broadway Gold and turf stakes placed runner Mambo Meister. His dam was third in the Schuylerville Stakes (G-3) and Eliza, the second dam won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and was second in the Kentucky Oaks. Dialed In has blazed three consecutive bullet works for the hot Zito barn and he should be on his toes here.
How the track is playing: 36% of the pace pressers have won going a mile this meet, with front runners scoring 28% of the time. The track should be fast.
The Holy Bull sets up with a ton of speed, as five of the nine entrants are pace setter/presser types, a speed duel could develop, setting it up for the closers. BLACK N BEAUTY has improving BRIS speed figures, but he was basically unchallenged last time out. He won’t get an easy lead today and may decide to sit second or third. SWEET DUCKY does his best work on the lead and will likely gun for the front. He has a string of bullet works, indicating that he’s fit and sharp. MUCHO MACHO MAN has been running well against one of the top early contenders for the Derby and has the class to beat this group. LEAVE OF ABSENCE and DIALED IN are stalkers who both show good works and will come running at the end.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE - longshot pick

Saturday, January 22, 2011

LeComte Stakes Kicks off Fairgrounds Derby Preps

Race 10 Fairgrounds LeComte Stakes
1 Mile 40 Yards | Open | 3 Year Olds |  G3  STAKES |  Purse: $100,000
Hard Spun - Photo: Hodges
The LeComte Stakes (G-3) is a stepping stone to bigger and better things. The horses entered in today’s race are being tested for class and if a few show quality, they will move on to the Risen Star Stakes, the middle leg of the Fairgrounds prep race series for the Kentucky Derby. The 2007 winner Hard Spun finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

WILKINSON (Lemon Drop Kid – Tasha’s Delight, by Afternoon Deelites) regressed slightly after winning his maiden to finish 3 ¼ lengths behind Justin Phillip. To give him some credit, he was five wide going into the first turn and it was his initial attempt over a sloppy track. Wilkinson’s dam is a stakes placed half sister to Grade 2 winner Miss Pickums. He has a stamina over speed pedigree and this distance is well within his scope. Wilkinson’s works are on the slow side of average and the Howard barn has a 4% win rate with graded stakes.

ACTION READY (More Than Ready – You Again, by Wild Again) has won or placed in his last three starts and is ready to move up. Action Ready will have no difficulty with the distance and eventually may want to go farther. His unraced dam is a half sister to Grade 2 winner Best of Luck and his second dam is a Grade 2 winner. Action Ready’s works have been brisk, including a last breeze bullet. The Calhoun barn scores with 20% of their runners moving from turf to dirt.

MOBEETIE (Sky Mesa – Ashley’s Crown, by Danzig) easily won his six furlong debut by 2 ¼ lengths over maiden claimers. Mobeetie should do well up to 1 1/16 miles. His dam is a half sister to a stakes placed runner, but the rest of this family is fairly blue collar. Mobeetie recorded one slow work since his win and the Heitzman barn is 0 for 24 with horses jumping from a sprint to a route.

Justin Phillip -  Photo: Hodges
JUSTIN PHILLIP (First Samurai – Avaknowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) rebounded with a win against optional claimers after showing twice against allowance company. It’s questionable how far First Samurai offspring will run, but Justin Phillip’s pedigree indicates that he should handle up to 1 1/8 miles. His damsire and second damsire were winners at 1 ½ miles. His dam was stakes paced and Justin Phillip is a half brother to sprinter Keyed Entry who set a new track record at Gulfstream Park for 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:27.12. Two other siblings are stakes winners as well. The Asmussen trainee gets the hood for his stakes debut and 23% of the barn’s runners running with first time blinkers win.

PANTS ON FIRE (Jump Start – Cabo De Noche, by Cape Town) showed speed in the Count Fleet Stakes, but backed up in the stretch and wound up more than four lengths behind the winner. The Kelly Breen trainee has a stamina over speed pedigree. His sire Jump Start, a well bred son of A.P. Indy, produced Grade 2 winners Rail Trip and Sir Whimsey. His offspring are generally best at a mile and farther. Cape Town generally gets sprinters, but his speed is tempered by the stamina influence of third damsire Bates Motel. Pants On Fire’s dam is a half sister to stakes winning sprinters Hatfield and Key Hunter. The Breen barn’s shippers win 19% of their races.

How the track is playing: One run closers are at a disadvantage getting only 11% of the pot. 33% of the front runners get to the wire first and mid-pack runners also do well. No rain is expected and the track should be fast.

This is a field of optional claimers trying for some black-type. JUSTIN PHILIP will be the likely favorite after facing a stronger group of allowance horses two races back. He’s flashed some talent, but he doesn’t appear unbeatable. PANTS ON FIRE can give Justin Phillip a run for his money on the front end. ACTION READY may also vie for the lead or sit just behind the pace. His speed figures are improving and he could surprise the top two. The field is too short for a longshot pick.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Going For A Clubhouse Ride in the Sham Stakes (G-3)

Sham & Trainer Frank Martin
Photo: Sports Illustrated
 The Sham Stakes (G-3) was named in honor of the 1973 underdog who chased Secretariat through the Triple Crown and ultimately had his heart broken in the Belmont Stakes. He finished second to Secretariat, in the Kentucky Derby, despite bashing his head against the starting gate so hard he lost two teeth. His time under the wire was a sub 2:00 and faster than Monarchos' winning time in 2001. In any other year, Sham would have been a Triple Crown winner.

This year brings changes to the renewal of the Sham Stakes. Previously contested at 1 1/8 miles at the end of February, the decision was made to shorten the race and hold it earlier in the year. It remains to be seen if the Sham will remain a strong Derby prep race, since the 2011 field is made up of a state-bred stakes winner and several maidens, two by the popular sire Tapit.

Read the rest of the Sham Stakes analysis at ThoroFan’s Handicapping Corner. ThoroFan works to give fans a voice in the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Industry. I hope you enjoy the Sham Stakes profiles and race selections. Please take a moment to check out the rest of the ThoroFan website.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Trends and Hot Sires at Santa Anita

santa_anita_horse_racing_200603_apThe winter meet highlighting the new dirt track at Santa Anita is a week old and certain trends are forming. I’ve kept spreadsheets to determine which running styles are most prominent, which sires are getting the most winners, and if horses that breezed over the dirt had an advantage over those whose last work was on a synthetic surface.

Running Styles:
In the dirt sprint races, speed from the rail wins an overwhelming 45% of the races. 36% of the victories go to horses that press the pace or run just off of the pace. Races held at a mile or longer over the dirt are a bit more forgiving, with speed and off the pace runners each winning at a 38% clip while stalkers grab 25% of the races.
Only four turf sprints have been contested and they have been spit evenly between front runners and closers. Races at a mile or farther over the lawn have been won on the lead 63% of the time and pace pressers or mid-pack runners took the rest.
Conclusion: Speed holds well over both surfaces and one run closers are at a distinct disadvantage in dirt sprints and going long on the turf.

As to be expected, it doesn’t matter where the winner won its last race. There’s no surprise that the majority of winners last raced at Hollywood Park. Form transferring from synthetics to dirt isn’t an issue, but those who last work over the Santa Anita dirt versus the Hollywood Cushion Track have the upper hand. Horses whose last breeze came over the Santa Anita dirt won 30 of the 50 dirt races.

With the transfer to dirt, one would expect horses predominately dirt attributes in their pedigrees to take the lion’s share of the money. This is partially true. Over the last five years, the sires whose progeny have done best over the various synthetic surfaces have some turf attributes in their ancestry. Now there’s a new ballgame in town and it’s anyone’s guess on where the former synthetic track runners will show up. We may see an increase in turf racing at Santa Anita over the coming months as horses that formerly handled Polytrack have a dislike for dirt. Those who handled the Cushion Track should have no difficulty with the dirt surface as it’s been noted that the Cushion Track composition resembles dirt more than the other synthetic tracks do.
Candy Ride photo lanes end
Candy Ride - Photo: Lane's End
Offspring by Candy Ride are winning left and right. Candy Ride dominated over dirt and turf, so it is no surprise that of the nine Candy Ride offspring that have entered the starting gate, three have won and five have grabbed third place. Cee’z Tizzy, sire of the great Tiznow, is represented by a place and show from six representatives, while the aforementioned Tiznow has eclipsed his sire, with a second and third from three starters. Storm Cat’s son Sea of Secrets has three winners from three starters. Tapit continues his versatile ways, getting a winner and two seconds from five starters.
Momentum photo Robbi Knudson
Momentum - Photo: Robbi Knudson
Remember the turf sires I mentioned? When pedigree aficionados see the name Nureyev, they associate it with turf and might dismiss the offspring of his sons trying dirt for the first time. In the case of Unusual Heat they would be right. The top California sire had 13 starters, one winner, one second and two thirds, for an 8% win rate. But wait a second, when handicappers see a son of Nureyev as the sire in the past performances, that sire shouldn’t be dismissed as producers of turf runners. Momentum, a son of Nureyev out of a Foolish Pleasure mare raced over dirt and his offspring are enjoying the Santa Anita dirt. They’ve posted a win, place and two shows from six tries. Another son of Nureyev, Good Journey, is batting 1,000 with two winners from two starters.
Below are sires that had three or more runners on opening week. It’s too soon to tell if a particular sire’s offspring will love or loathe the dirt, but we should have a better picture midway through the meet. Pay special attention to the highlighted names as you make your way through the past performances.

Ancient Art (Storm Cat) 3-1-0-0
Atticus (Nureyev) 3-1-0-0
Benchmark (Alydar) 6-0-1-2
Bertrando (Skywalker) 3-0-0-2
Candy Ride (Ride The Rails) 9-3-0-5
Cee's Tizzy (Relaunch) 6-0-1-1
Chapel Royal (Montbrook) 3-0-0-0
Decarchy (Distant View) 7-0-0-0
Formal Gold (Black tie Affair) 4-0-0-1
Freespool (Geiger Counter) 5-0-1-0
Gotham City (Saint Ballado) 3-0-0-1
In Excess (Siberian Express) 4-0-0-2
Jackpot (Seeking the Gold) 3-0-0-0
Kafwain (Cherokee Run) 2-2-0-0
Lemon Drop Kid (Kingmambo) 3-0-1-0
Lit de Justice (El Gran Senior) 4-0-0-1
Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy) 3-0-1-0
Marino Marini (Storm Cat) 5-0-1-0
Medaglio d'Oro (El Prado) 3-1-0-1
Momentum (Nureyev) 6-1-1-2
More Than Ready (Southern Halo) 4-0-1-1
Northern Afleet (Afleet) 3-0-1-0
Offlee Wild (Wild Again) 3-0-0-1
Old Topper (Gilded Time) 4-0-0-0
Pleasantly Perfect (Pleasant Colony) 3-1-0-1
Quiet American (Fappiano) 3-1-0-0
Redattore (Roi Normand) 5-0-1-0
Rio Verde (Nureyev) 3-0-0-0
Rockport Harbor (Unbridled’s Song) 4-0-2-2
Royal Cat (Storm Cat) 3-1-0-0
Sea of Secrets (Storm Cat) 3-3-0-0
Stephen Got Even (A.P. Indy) 3-0-0-1
Stormed (Storm Cat) 3-0-0-0
Swiss Yodeler (Eastern Echo) 4-0-0-1
Tapit (Pulpit) 5-1-2-0
Thunder Gulch (Gulch) 4-1-0-1
Tizbud (Cee's Tizzy) 3-0-0-1
Tiznow (Cee's Tizzy) 3-0-1-1
Unusual Heat (Nureyev) 13-1-1-2