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