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