Friday, February 25, 2011

Running Like A Madman in the Hutcheson Stakes

Not every three year old male is looking to make a name for himself in the Kentucky Derby. Sprinters take the spotlight in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes on Saturday, February 26.

ManiceroPasco Stakes victor MANICERO (Mass Media - Ritzy Blitz, by Kris S.) enters with a four race win streak under his girth. One would think a horse with the bloodlines of Belmont Stakes winners Touch Gold and Travers hero Forty Niner, Manicero’s sire Mass Media would have traveled two turns, however, it was not to be. Mass Media raced at shorter distances and is passing his speed to his offspring. Manicero’s unraced dam has produced two other listed stakes winners, and is the grand-dam of a stakes winner. Her half-brother Thunder Blitz won the Flamingo Stakes (G-3) and was fourth in the Kentucky Derby. Manicero has been breezing well.

Joining his trainer’s Florida stable for beCrossbow - Photo: Coglianesetter opportunities, CROSSBOW (Bernardini – Forest Heiress, by Forest Wildcat) proved he could handle the competition in a seven furlong allowance event over the Gulfstream surface in his last start. Crossbow is by last year’s impressive first-crop sire and his stakes winning dam is a half-sister to 2009 first crop sire sensation Wildcat Heir. Crossbow breezed nicely for this spot, but will have to go from the one post.

Madman Diaries  -  Photo: Michael BurnsMaking his seasonal debut in the Hutcheson is MADMAN DIARIES (Bring the Heat – Harper N Abby, by Outflanker). He has blazing speed top and bottom in his pedigree and has run some wicked fractions in all of his races. His sire is a descendant of the brilliant but fragile In Excess sire line and his second dam Meafara was second two years running in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Madman Diaries has been breezing like a madman, recording back-to-back blazing bullets. He takes off the hood and the Wesley Ward barn is 32% with that angle.

Also entering off of a long layoff is Big Drama’sLittle Drama -  Photo: Jim Lisa half-brother LITTLE DRAMA (Burning Roma – Riveting Drama, by Notebook). His works haven’t been as impressive as Madman Diaries’, but he’s been breezing strongly at Calder and he can keep the pressure on.

ROYAL CURRIER (Red Bullet – Top Of The League, by Lite the Fuse) invades from colder climes after chasing Fort Hughes home in the Jimmy Winkfield stakes at Aqueduct. The Patricia Farro trainee has been first or second in all seven starts. Royal Currier’s sire stole the Preakness spoiling Fusaichi Pegasus’s Triple Crown bid, but at stud, he gets sprinters. Royal Currier’s dam won one of two starts and she’s a half-sister to a stakes placed runner. Royal Currier had a strong lung opener to prepare for the Hutcheson, but the barn is successful with only 9% of shippers.

BLACK N BEAUTY (Devil His Due – Harbor Girl, by Boston Harbor) goes back to the drawing board after tiring badly in the one mile Holy Bull Stakes (G-3). His sire’s best known offspring is the multiple Grade 1 winner Roses in May. As a broodmare sire, Boston Harbor gets mainly sprinters. Black N Beauty’s dam was 1 for 8 on the track 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 recorded two average breezes and the Dale Romans barn gets 16% winners with horses cutting back to sprints.

Leave Of Absence - Photo: CoglianeseLEAVE OF ABSENCE (Harlan’s Holiday – Danseur Chaud, by Joyeux Danseur) didn’t feel like running and followed Black N Beauty home in the Holy Bull. He zapped a bullet four furlongs in his most previous work and adds blinkers. The Violette barn earns 12% wins with horses trying blinkers for the first time. Leave of Absence’s dam went 0 for 6 on the track, 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 plenty of turf influences in his pedigree and may find a future on the lawn if he shows nothing here.

Finding the Gulfstream racing strip to his liking in his three year old debut, RAZMATAZ (Forest Wildcat - Miss Cheektowaga, by Crafty Friend) enters with the typical live work pattern shown by many Pletcher charges.

Razmataz’s dam was unplaced in four attempts and she is a half-sister to the Grade 3 stakes sprinter More Smoke. This offshoot of the family has produced few stakes winners, but, other branches have produced the Champion mare Hidden Lake and Kentucky Derby hero Big Brown.

Two colts are jumping into the fray after registering gaudy maiden victories. Razmataz’s stable mate TRAVELIN MAN (Trippi - West Side Dancer, by Gone West) flew six furlongs in 1:09 flat while conquering first timers by over seven lengths. His last work compares to that of Razmataz. Travelin Man’s damsire was second in the Hutcheson in 1987. Travelin Man’s dam won once in eight tries and she’s a half-sister to a stakes placed runner. This is the distaff family of A.P. Indy, Summer Squall, European Champion Duke of Marmalade, and Lemon Drop Kid.

Like Royal Currier, FLASHPOINT (Pomeroy - TwoFlashpoint Punch Lil, by Two Punch) headed to sunny South Florida after scoring against maidens at Aqueduct. Flashpoint’s dam won half of her eight starts, including a stakes race. She is inbred to the blue hen Raise You through her third sire Raise A Native and his full sister, Toast Of The Town, who is Two Punch’s third dam. The pretty gray Flashpoint posted two strong stamina works over the Gulfstream surface and the Rick Dutrow barn gets 28% winners with the maiden to stakes angle.


How the track is playing: 75% of sprint races are won on the lead or pressing the pace; however, the outside is the place to be with 27% of victorious runners break from post 4 – 8. No rain is expected and the track should be lightning fast.

All contenders except LEAVE OF ABSENCE want to be on or pressing the pace. We could easily see a Calvary charge with the field bunched up, or alternatively, someone could outbreak the field and never look back. So the mission is to find the sprinter who can fire fast early fractions and run them off of their feet. MADMAN DIARIES can through opening quarters of :21 and change and keep going. He has the best works of the field, but will he be fit enough to blast this group off a three month layoff? ROYAL CURRIER can also toss out fast fractions and has the benefit of a recent race. MANICERO should certainly be fit and likes to have his picture taken. CROSSBOW fired off an excellent final time in his gulfstream debut. RAZMATAZ is the more experienced of the two Pletcher entries. TRAVELIN MAN is the morning line favorite after his huge maiden win, but maidens who score triple digit speed figures in their maidens tend to regress next time out.




# 9 MANICERO – longshot pick 5-1 or higher


Dancing Into The Davona Dale

Six of the nine contestants in the Davona Dale have stakes experience and the first four finishes of last month’s Forward Gal come back for a rematch in the Davona Dale.

Pomeroys Pistol Photo CoglianeseThe champion of the seven furlong Forward Gal Stakes (G-2), POMEROYS PISTOL (Pomeroy – Prettyatthetable, by Point Given) will attempt to stretch her speed an extra furlong. She has a miler’s pedigree and should handle the extra distance. Pomeroys Pistol fired two strong three furlongs lung openers, indicating that she’ll be on her toes here.

DANCINGINHERDREAMS (Tapit – MayanDancinginherdreams Photo Eclipse Sportswire Milagra, by Menifee) had her two-race win streak snapped by a ½ length in the Forward Gal Stakes. The pretty gray filly worked a last out bullet and should be tough with the extra distance.

Getting up for third in the Forward Gal, EVIL QUEEN (Hear No Evil – Duchess Dor, by Tour D’Or) has faced the starter ten times in her short life. Her speed figures are improving in every start and she posted two maintenance works at Calder.

R Heat Lightning  Photo CoglianeseThe favorite for the Forward Gal off of her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies placing, R HEAT LIGHTNING (Trippi – Yellow Heat, by Gold Fever) wound up a disappointing fourth in the Forward Gal. She should be tougher in her second attempt, especially after two blazing works at Palm Meadows.

ROXY GAP (Indian Charlie – Hart’s Gap, by SaintRoxy Gap Photo Michael Burns Ballado) had her three race win streak snapped when she was third in her first race of the season, her initial attempt over dirt, in the Old Hat Stakes. She sports a trio of average works. Roxy Gap has a durable distaff family filled with stakes winners. Her dam Hart’s Gap started 24 times and was stakes placed. Hart’s Gap is a half-sister to stakes winner Adopted Daughter and also to the dam of multiple stakes winner Yates Black Cat who raced 38 times. Roxy Gap’s second dam won multiple stakes and started 64 times.

MENDING HEARTS (Street Cry – Satin Cat, by Storm Cat) jumps into stakes completion after winning her maiden at this distance a month ago. Her dam won two of nine starts over turf and is a Half-sister to Grade 2 winner Tropicool, Grade 3 turf winner Mending Fences, and stakes placed Acclimate. Mending Hearts has been working well.

HOT SUMMER (Malibu Moon - Summer Delight, by Quiet American) demolished a group of allowance runners back in November and is making her stakes debut off of a layoff. Hot Summer is a half-sister to the stakes placed turf router Southwest. Her dam won three of 12 starts and placed in a listed stakes going 1 1/16 over the dirt. Hot Summer is Inbred to the blue hen Weekend Surprise through her sons A.P. Indy (sire of Malibu Moon) and Summer Squall (second damsire of Hot Summer).

Oh Carole Photo Taylor MadeOH CAROLE (Unbridled’s Song – Renowned Cat, by Storm Cat) won from off the pace over the speed-favoring Gulfstream surface last time out. Her unraced dam is a half-sister to the top mare, Escena, heroine of the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Oh Carole has inbreeding to the blue hen Sequence through her daughters Gold Digger (dam of Mr. Prospector) and Inviting, Oh Carole’s fourth dam. Oh Carole’s two breezes have been average.

The Sweetest Chant Stakes was not indicative of the talented BELLARIDGE (Cactus Ridge - Jorja's Prospect, by Prospect Bay). She can handle dirt or turf and her breezes are decent, but the Bradley barn is only 9% with route winners. Bellaridge has a dirt miler’s pedigree. Her dam is a hard-knocking veteran of 20 starts, wining or placing nine times sprinting over the dirt. The second dam Forza placed in a listed stakes, but that’s about it for blacktype.


How the track is playing: 67% of the front runners/pace pressers win, and last week 33% of the front runners wired the field. The day should be sunny and the track fast.

DANCINGINHERDREAMS was ½ a length shy of the win last time out. She runs from off of the pace, but the extra distance should help. ROXY GAP and POMEROYS PISTOL are the speedballs of the race. Neither have a problem with throwing down :21 quarters and both are fighters. ROXY GAP is a true front runner, but POMEROYS PISTOL can sit off the pace. R HEAT LIGHTING disappointed in her season debut, but should improve. MENDING HEARTS has a nice pedigree and appears ready to take on stakes competition.




#1 MENDING HEARTS – longshot pick at 5-1 or higher

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Racing Fitness A Key to the San Vicente Stakes?

The last horse to pull the San Vicente – Kentucky Derby double was Silver Charm in 1997. Not surprisingly, the victors of the San Vicente continue their careers as sprinter/miler types, although last year’s hero Sidney’s Candy won the 1 1/8 mile Santa Anita Derby. In the Kentucky Derby Sidney’s Candy set a frantic pace and faded when the real running began. Not to be deterred, the swift son of Candy Ride came back to set a new track record for 1 1/16 miles over the turf in the La Jolla Handicap. This year’s renewal of the San Vicente includes one or two colts whose pedigrees indicate that 1 ¼ miles of the Kentucky Derby are within their scope, however the rest are cut out to be sprinters.

Premier Pegasus - Photo: Benoit One would think that PREMIER PEGASUS (Fusaichi Pegasus – Squall Linda, by Summer Squall), a graded stakes winner who has been undefeated in three starts, would be the headline of the San Vicente Stakes, especially since he is a half-brother to Grade 1 Stakes winner, Street Hero. But the Rodney Dangerfield of the group doesn’t get any respect.The Factor  Photo Benoit

Instead, the morning line favorite is the Bob Baffert trained colt THE FACTOR (War Front – Grayciousness, by Miswaki).  The pretty gray colt set a course record in only his second start, but was likely aided by the lightning fast track. The Factor is bred to be speedy. His sire and damsire are graded stakes winning sprinters, and his dam is a half-sister to the graded stakes placed sire Chief Seattle.

The two colts mentioned above will likely go to the post at very short odds, but don’t dismiss the rest of this field as unaccomplished neophytes.

Sway Away- Photo: Sheri Pitzer Second by only a half-length to the accomplished J P’s Gusto in the Best Pal (G-2), SWAY AWAY (Afleet Alex – Seattle Shimmer, by Seattle Slew) has been firing bullets like a machine gun. The farther they go the better for Sway Away as both his sire and damsire and second damsire (Summer Squall) are Classic winners. The San Vicente is a good starting point on the Kentucky Derby journey and he can sit behind what may become a torrid pace.Indian Winter - Photo: Benoit

In his first start of the season, INDIAN WINTER (Indian Charlie – Backroom Blues, by Dixieland Band) took the San Pedro  Stakes over City Cool and Sinai. Indian Winter has a strong sprinter/miler pedigree. He’s a half-brother to two precocious stakes horses, Five Star Holding, second in the Three Chimneys Juvenile and the California filly Sindy With An S, winner of the G-3 Safely Kept. Indian Winter’s post-race works imply that he’s ready to advance.

CITY COOL (City Zip – Stylish Manner, by Touch Gold) made the entire pace in the San Pedro, but couldn’t hold of the charge of Indian Winter, who bested him by ½ length. City Cool has a speed over stamina pedigree. His sire’s dirt runners are best at shorter distances while his damsire Touch Gold won the Belmont Stakes. City Cool’s female family’s blacktype runners include a stakes placed sibling and his second dam, Devils Nell.

SINAI (Rockport Harbor – Don’tgetinmyway, by Machiavellian) was a troubled third in the San Pedro behind Indian Winter. Rockport Harbor, a second-crop sire, has only two stakes winners so far. Sinai’s dam is a half-sister to the graded stakes winner Even the Score and his second dam is a graded stakes winner. Sinai’s works are average.

Three colts, Surry Star, Oakcrest Drive and Metropolitan Man, are trying dirt for the first time. Of the three, METROPOLITAN MAN (Hook and Ladder – Hasty Cat, by Tabasco Cat) has a dirt pedigree and can improve with the switch. In fact, his pedigree back to the third generation is filled with dirt influences. Metropolitan Man is a half- brother to stakes winning Sezzanaa and Piquante Cat, a stakes placed runner, plus his second and third dams are stakes winners. He probably won’t want to run much farther than a mile and he’s recorded decent works.

Mentioned in our December watch list, OAKCREST DRIVE (Arch – Ascension, by Night Shift) won his maiden over Cushion Track, which is the synthetic surface closest to dirt composition. His sire Arch won over dirt and gets winners over all surfaces. Oakcrest Drive’s distaff side is strongly bred for the lawn. His dam was Group 2 sprinter in France and her sire produced a handful of Group 1 winners, including 1992 Hollywood Starlet winner Creaking Board and the multiple Group 1 stayer Azamour. Oakcrest Drive’s works have been slow.

Last in the analysis, but breaking from post one is SURREY STAR (Dubawi – Turning Light, by Fantastic Light). He’s entered off almost a three month layoff and has a pedigree rife with weeds. His sire, a Group 1 sprinter in Europe, is one of five stakes winners produced by Dubai Millennium in his only crop of 56 foals. Surry Star’s dam sire was a long-winded turf champion and the dam is a German-bred stakes winner. He’d be one to consider if the San Vicente switched to turf and was held at 1 ½ miles.


How the track is playing: Three out of four sprint races at Santa Anita are won by front runners.

The key to the San Vicente could be racing fitness. Morning works won’t get a horse as ready as true competition. All eyes will be on The Factor, but experience teaches that when a young horse runs big first time out, they bounce like a kid in a moon house in their second start. He’s had strong works, but hasn’t run in over a month. This can set him up to be rank early and out of gas late. A few in here could gun for the lead and keep THE FACTOR company on the front end. CITY COOL has the speed to run with THE FACTOR and this can set it up for a horse coming from just off of the pace. INDIAN WINTER has great works race and a recent race. He’ll be sitting behind in the garden spot. SINAI had a horrid race last time out. Baffert takes off the hood, and wins with 27% of his runners with that angle. PREMIER PEGASUS is undefeated in three starts and like INDIAN WINTER can sit behind the speed then make his move in the stretch. SWAY AWAY has the best works in the field. He hasn’t run since last August, but if he’s to hit the Derby Trail, this is a good starting point. Take a close look at METROPOLITAN MAN. He has a pedigree built for dirt, he has :21 speed and gets one of the top front riding jocks at Santa Anita. Cerin is 27% winners with blinkers off. I have no clue why OAKCREST DRIVE and SURRY STAR are in here.




#2 METROPOLITAN MAN – longshot pick

Thursday, February 17, 2011

There Is A Horse In New Orleans

Saturday’s contest for aspiring juvenile colts takes us to the Fairgrounds in Louisiana for the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. Since 2000, all victors in the Risen Star Stakes (G-2) have been distance challenged, except for the 2006 winner, Lawyer Ron, who went on to become Champion Older Horse in 2007. Lawyer Ron went into the gate as the favorite in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, but tired and finished seventh. Perhaps this year’s Risen Star hero will fare better.

The first of Rogue Romance - Photo: Coadytwo graded stakes winners in the field, ROGUE ROMANCE (Smarty Jones - Lovington, by Afleet) finished a distant ten lengths behind Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He has a versatile pedigree that indicates that he’ll do well over any surface and he’s proven at 1 1/16 miles. Rogue Romance’s BRISNET speed figures have been improving in every start and he enters the Risen Star with a series of solid works under his girth.

The second graded stakes winner is Santiva (Giant’s Causeway – Slide, by Smarten) who fought a winning bSantiva - Photo: Eclipse Sportswireattle through the stretch of the  Kentucky Jockey Club (G-2). Santiva is a full brother to the sprinter, Her Majesty, who placed in the Alcibiades Stakes and he is a half-brother to stakes placed Take Arms. Their dam is an unraced half-sister to Champion Sprinting filly Safely Kept and graded stakes winning sprinter Partner’s Hero. The Keanelly Trainee has improved in every start and ripped a bullet breeze for the Risen Star.

Pants On Fire - Photo: Hoofprints PANTS ON FIREclip_image001 (Jump Start – Cabo De Noche, by Cape Town) is a head shy from graded stakes winner status, and was nipped by a head in the LeComte Stakes (G-3) after making the pace. Pants On Fire 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 Pants On Fire’s second damsire Bates Motel. Pants On Fire’s dam is a half sister to stakes winning sprinters Hatfield and Key Hunter. Pants On Fire had two decent post-race works, but he will have company on the lead.

The one to give Pants On Fire a challenge for the lead will be Decisive Moment (With Distinction – Lady Samira, by Dehere). Decisive Moment’s pedigree carries miler-type speed. He is second crop sire With Distinction’s only winner at 1 1/16 miles. Decisive Moment has two stakes placed siblings and his second dam Tell Margie won a minor stakes race but that’s it for blacktype in the immediate family. Decisive Moment won the Jean Lafitte Stakes at a mile last time out but will have to handle the long Fairgrounds stretch this time.

Another with miler speed in his pedigree is Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno – Ponche De Leona, by Ponche). He offered no challeMucho Macho Man - Photo: Coglianesenge to Honor  And Serve in the Nashua, and was a pace casualty in the Holy Bull (G-3) in his season debut. 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 the majority of his offspring have distance limitations past 1 1/16 miles. Adding further limitations, Mucho Macho Man’s dam and damsire are stakes winning sprinters. The Kathy Ritvo trainee recorded a slow five furlong move in his last work.

Do morning works signal race readiness? If so, ACTION READY (More Than Ready – You Again, by Wild Again) is geared up and ready to go. He’s fired two bullet breezes in a live work pattern and his BRISNET speed figures have been improving in every race. He has a stamina oriented pedigree and has a graded stakes winning distaff family. Action Ready was the best of the rest after Wilkenson and Pants On Fire separated themselves for their speed duel for the wire in the LeComte. It was Action Ready’s was his first try against graded stakes company and one of the only times he was farther off the lead than usual.

Justin Phillip - Photo: Hodges His experiment with blinkers failed in the LeComte when JUSTIN PHILLIP (First Samurai – Avaknowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) was a handful in the beginning of the race and had nothing left when the real running began. Justin Phillip has a speed over stamina pedigree. He’s 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 and their dam was stakes placed.

The three new faces in the stakes crowd are Machen, Liondrive and Sorgho. Many think that Rogue RomaMachennce’s top challenger might be Machen  (Distorted Humor – Ready’s Gal, by More Than Ready). The Neil Howard trainee won both starts by over ten lengths and dips his hoof into graded stakes company for the first time. Distance won’t be a problem for this well-bred colt. His sire is becoming the now horse, with progeny winning left and right, while Machen’s dam is a multiple graded stakes winner who was at her best between 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 miles. Machen has been keeping pace with older horses in the mornings and his works are strong.

Liondrive (Lion Tamer – Outta The Park, by Grand Slam) has won two of nine starts, a maiden claiming and a state-bred allowance/optional claimer. He was out of the money in three stakes attempts. Liondrive has a speed over stamina pedigree. His sire was a sprinter and hasn’t been a success at stud. Liondrive’s dam won twice in five starts and this is a very modest distaff family. On a side note, Liondrive has Inbreeding to the blue hen Tamerett, but he’ll need more than that to keep up with this group.

Sorgho - Photo: Crystal Jones Well-bred Sorgho (Storm Cat – Gombeen, by Private Account) won his maiden last time out after switching to dirt. He’s by one of the most prolific stallions in modern times and his dam is a half-sister to the excellent sire Danehill; however, bloodlines aside, Sorgho’s dam went 0 for 8 on the track and his half siblings haven’t done much winning on the track.



How the track is playing: Overall, the track is playing fair, with pace pressers gaining the slight edge with 32% winners. The rail is the place to be with 29% winners. No rain is forecast, the track should be fast.

Most of the contestants prefer to race on or near the lead, but three have shown that they can be successful coming from off of the pace. ROGUE ROMANCE came from last in the Bourbon (G3) to win, and although that race was on the turf, the ability for a horse to switch off and run when asked transcends running surface. SANTIVA is battle tested, classy and is working well. He checks all of the boxes. DECISIVE MOMENT is the speed of the speed and his connections have indicated that he’ll gun out of the gate and play catch me if you can. PANTS ON FIRE could try to keep DECISIVE MOMENT honest on the lead. MUCHO MACHO MAN shook the rust off in the Holy Bull and should be ready to roll. He takes off the hood to help him relax. If it works, he can sit behind the speed and be ready to make the first move. ACTION READY wasn’t up to the task in the LeComte. He looks good to go on paper, but I have a feeling that he’s a cut below these and might prefer turf. JUSTIN PHILLIP has been a basket case ever since a poor break last year. Back off, give him some time and they might wind up with a decent miler. MACHEN and SORGHO are well-bred and taking on experienced runners. The former is untested and undefeated. SORGHO has a good late-pace figure, but his speed figures are going the wrong way and his wining time wasn’t inspiring.




MACHEN – longshot pick

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pedigree Plays a Part in the El Camino Real Derby

Brethren isn't everyone's favorite in the Sam F. Davis Stakes! Read more here:

Thoroughbred breeding in the US leans more and more towards speed every year. The majority of the races are held between five furlongs and 1 1/16 miles. An extra furlong doesn’t seem like much, but it can be the difference between winning and losing a race. Natural talent and the heart of the particular thoroughbred can take him far, but pedigree can help determine the horse that will have that little extra it takes to win.
Comma to The Top -  Photo: Benoit The overwhelming favorite in the El Camino Real Derby is COMMA TO THE TOP (Bwana Charlie – Maggies Storm, by Stormy Atlantic), who boasts a five win race streak, which started at Golden Gate. Comma To The Top has a sprinter/miler pedigree. His high cruising speed and ability to put away his foes mid-race could carry him to 1/18 miles but he’ll be running on fumes at the end. Comma To The Top is Bwana Charlie’s best runner. His dam, Maggies Storm, placed once in four tries. She is a half-sister to the stakes winner miler Yes He’s a Pistol and stakes placed Dumaai of Course. Comma To The Top isn’t facing the toughest group, but he will face a distance test. Read his pedigree profile on the Derby Profiles Page.Positive Response -  Photo: Vassar
Comma to the Top’s main challenger could be POSITIVE RESPONSE (Pomeroy – Lisa’s Approval, by Farma Way), who has been improving in  every race. Positive Response has a speed over stamina pedigree. His sire gets sprinter/miler types and hasn’t produced a stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles. His damsire won at 1 ¼ miles and Positive Response’s dam won at two turns over the lawn. Positive Response is the first stakes winner in two generations of his distaff family. He’s already bested Jakesam and Bluegrass Reward and brings a bullet work to the starting gate, but like Comma To The Top, the distance is a question mark.
The aforementioned JAKESAM (Smoke Glacken – Deputy Sarah, by Deputy Commander) has seen the tail ends of Comma To The Top and Positive Response in front of him. He’s won at the maiden and allowance levels, but appears to be a notch below the best. Jakesam has a speed over stamina pedigree. His sire gets mostly sprint types, but does have three winners at 1 1/8 miles, including Persistently, who has similar breeding to Jakesam. His damsire Deputy Commander and second damsire Holy Bull both won the Travers Stakes. Jakesam dam is a half-sister to Grade 2 stakes winner Higher World. The pretty gray colt might put pressure on the top two early.
Silver Medallion - Photo: Eclipse Sportswire SILVER MEDALLION (Badge of Silver – Another Vegetarian, by Stalwart) won the Eddie Logan stakes on the grass last time out. Silver Medallion is a half-brother to Sweet Talker, winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G-1) over the lawn. His sire Badge of Silver is represented by his first crop this year and has three winners over the turf. His dam Another Vegetarian is a half-sister to a stakes winner. Silver Medallion has been rank, pulled, bumped and steadied in most of his races, making me wonder what he can do with a clean trip.
BLUEGRASS REWARD (Good Reward – Bluegrass Belle, by Unbridled’s Song) was a gaining third behind Positive Response and Jakesam in the California Derby. He has the pedigree to be a factor at longer distances. Bluegrass Reward so far is the top runner for his second crop sire, who won up to 1 ¼ miles over the turf. His dam is a half-sister to a stakes placed runner. Thorn Song, a Grade 1 turf miler was produced by this female family. Bluegrass Rewards breezes have been slow stamina oriented affairs.
After breaking into the winning ranks in his fifth attempt three weeks ago, FORMULA GOLD (Formal Gold – Pundit, by Beau Genius) jumps into tough competition. He has a distance oriented pedigree. His sire fought with Skip Away and Will’s Way through many prestigious handicaps during his racing career. Formula Gold’s damsire won up to 1 1/8 miles, and as a broodmare sire, has winners at 1 ¼ miles. Formula Gold is a half-brother to the stakes placed miler Bleach Blonde. Formula Gold hasn’t worked since the beginning of December, which is unusual.
How the track is playing: Contrary to almost every other track in the US this winter, the front runner isn’t always the winner at Golden Gate. 80% of the races this meet at 1/18 miles have been won by the mid pack or steady one-run closers while the front runners have wired the field 20% of the time. Strangely, pace pressers are at a major disadvantage.
COMMA TO THE TOP has the most speed in this race. Can he get away with an easy lead and coast home on fumes? He’s certainly seems talented enough, but this ain’t Southern California and those one-run Zenyatta types can close at Golden Gate. POSITIVE RESPONSE and JAKESAM could keep COMMA TO THE TOP working on the front end. The only one-run type is BLUEGRASS REWARD. He has the pedigree and could come running at the end. SILVER MEDALION strikes me as a potentially nice turf horse. His works over dirt are average. While his pedigree indicates that he should run over anything, I’ll take a pass. What about FORMULA GOLD? Did the light bulb suddenly go on? He’s never run a bad race and could be a live longshot if things fall apart.
#3 FORMULA GOLD – longshot pick

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Well-Bred Colts Kickoff the Day at Gulfstream

#1 NINJA BLADE (Johannesburg – Mekkho Hokte, by Holy Bull) has a miler pedigree. He’s a half-brother to G-3 sprinter My Jen and their dam is a stakes placed sprinter. Nipped by Dialed In in their debut, he was no match for Travlin Man . BRIS Speed Figure improved and he has nice works at Palm Meadows.
California - Photo: Walter Kobbe
#2 CALIFORNIA (A.P. Indy – Madcap Escapade, by Hennessy) is a three-quarter brother to Darley Debutante winner Mi Sueno. Dam is a multiple Grade 1 winning sprinter and a half-sister to Grade 1 winning sprinter Dubai Escapade. Nice pedigree, works are fair.
Stormy the Cat - Photo: Jessica M
#3 STORMY THE CAT (Storm Cat – Unrestrained, by Unbridled) This immediate distaff family is filled with winners, including Arlington Classic winner Pleasant Strike, Jim Dandy winner A Little Warm, etc. Dam is a stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles. Second dam Mistrella was a Champion Two Year Old in Ireland and is a half-sister to the dam of Saint Liam. The pretty gray colt cuts back in distance and gets off the lawn. Last two works were good.

#4 RUNYON HUMOR (Distorted Humor – Zonk, by Farma Way) Dam is a multiple graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles. Damsire won graded stakes from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 3/16 miles. Runyon Humor has been in the money the last three starts and owns a brisk breeze, but he seems a cut below. The barn is 5% with turf to dirt angle.
#5 ARCH TRAVELER (Sky Mesa - Mettle, by Silver Deputy) has a sprinter/miler pedigree and his dam is a half-sister to a couple of Japanese stakes winning sprinters. Arch Traveler has a live work pattern and he just missed a few weeks ago.
#6 BORREGO'S BOY (Borrego – Gold Premieress, by Premiership) is a half-brother to stakes winners to American Century and Energized. Dam is a half-sister to three stakes winners. Borrego’s offspring generally need a race or two to get going. Works are stamina oriented and he might need a race. The barn is 0 for 18 with first time starters.
#7 B F BIRD (Birdstone – Zamgo, by Zamindar) Dam is a half-sister to the dam of Grade 1 winner Hooh Why. Damsire is a full brother to Champion Zaphonic and his offspring include Champion filly Zarkava and Group 1 winners Zenda, Darjina and Coquerelle. This colt will probably want to go longer, but he has to start somewhere. His works are the best of the first time starters.
How the track is playing: Speed bias, 56% of pace setters win.
Arch Traveler was in contention the whole way last time out and was nipped at the wire. He’s been working best of all. Ninja Blade was outclassed last time out, but he’s also working well. This distance should suit him. Stormy the Cat has a very good pedigree, but hasn’t put it together. Think the barn is experimenting here to see what he wants to do. California has an excellent pedigree but his works are pretty slow for the Pletcher barn. His half-sister was precocious, but he may be a short price. B F Bird is working well but he’ll want to go longer. Torn between BF Bird and California for getting a piece of the pie. We’ll go with the more precocious pedigree here.
Arch Traveler
Ninja Blade
Stormy the Cat – longshot selection

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Whirlaway Stakes Full Of Speed

 The Whirlaway Stakes, named for the 1941 Triple Crown winner, has been contested since 1980 at Aqueduct Racetrack. So far, two contestants, Belmont Stakes winner Summing (third in 1981 Whirlaway) and Preakness winner Prairie Bayou (1993 Whirlaway winner), have pulled off a Whirlaway Classic double. This year’s contest features seven colts traveling 1 1/6 miles on the inner track. Let’s take a closer look at the field.
#1 TOBY'S CORNER (Bellamy Road – Brandons Ride, by Mister Frisky) won his last two races by over eleven lengths and like most in here is trying for a stakes win. His second crop sire is getting winners up to 1 mile 70 yards over dirt and Polytrack. Damsire won the Santa Anita Derby and was third in the Preakness. 1 Toby's Corner is a half-brother to stakes winner Bushmills Best, but that’s about it for stakes horses in the first three generations. 

Arthurs Tale - Photo: Jessica M
  #2 ARTHUR'S TALE (Bernardini – Owsley, by Harlan) won his maiden in December on the lead, but was futilely giving chase over a speed favoring track in the Count Fleet. His second crop sire is proving to be a standout. The farther the better for Arthur's Tale. His dam is a multiple graded stakes winner at 1 ¼ miles and beyond over the turf and she has produced two stakes placed runners. Second damsire Sham offers a ton of stamina.
#3 RESCIND THE TRADE (Put It Back, Abuela Esther, by Crater) has won both of his starts by a neck and earned a tripe digit BRIS figure in his last start. The majority of his sire’s progeny are sprinters. Rescind the Trade’s dam is an Argentinian stakes winner and the second dam is stakes placed.
#4 NORMAN ASBJORNSON (Real Quiet – Merryland Missy, by Citidancer) has won his last two races by over seven lengths. He gets plenty of stamina from his sire and his dam was a stakes winning sprinter. His second damsire Smarten won at 1 ¼ miles and placed going 1 ½ miles.

Preachintothedevil - Photo: Coglianese
 #5 PREACHINTOTHEDEVIL (Pulpit – Acey Deucey, by Abaginone) won the Champagneforashley Stakes on this track conquering Sky Music. Preachintothedevil’s dam was a multiple graded stakes winning sprinter/miler. His damsire, a son of Devil’s Bag, won two Grade 3 sprint races.
#6 J J'S LUCKY TRAIN (Silver Train – Delta Sensation, by Thunder Gulch) had his two race win streak snapped last time out in the Count Fleet Stakes, so the blinkers come off. His dam was a stakes winner over the turf. She’s the only stakes winner in two generations, but there is some blacktype in the third generation.

Sky Music - Photo: Jessica M
 #7 SKY MUSIC (Sky Mesa – Silence Please, by Quiet American) has finished behind Preachintothedevil in two consecutive state-bred stakes races. He has a speed over stamina pedigree. His unraced dam is a half-sister to two stakes placed runners.

How the track is playing: Traditionally, speed on the rail dominates over the inner Aqueduct track. 67% of the winners have wired the field in route races, while mid-pack runners win the remaining 33%.
J J’S LUCKY TRAIN and NORMAN ASBJORNSON do their best work on the lead. J J’s Lucky Train appears to be the faster of the two. The latter’s BRIS speed figures are improving, but he doesn’t show any breezes since mid-January. TOBY’S CORNER and ARTHUR’S TALE like to run close to the pace as well. Arthur’s Tale is well bred, but he needs to show more speed if he wants to keep with the top horses. Rescind the Trade shows a number of very good works and should be sharp. PREACHINTOTHEDEVIL also has some bullet breezes under his belt and will be charging at the end. SKY MUSIC had excuses for his last two attempts and represents the powerful Pletcher barn. I’m torn between J J’s Lucky Train and Sky Music, but the speed bias on the track favors J J’s Lucky Train.
#1 TOBY’S CORNER – Longshot Pick