Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gulfstream Park Derby Offers Glimpse of TC Contenders

GulfstreamParkThe inaugural running of the Gulfstream Park Derby offers a glimpse at contenders for the upcoming Triple Crown prep races.

Undoubtedly, the winner, and likely runners up in this contest will merit consideration later in the year. Ancient Rome, the only stakes winner in the field, took the Spectacular Bid Stakes earlier in the meet, winning in a swift 1:08 4/5. He’ll try to stretch his speed against a field of recent maiden winners, allowance runners and optional claimers.

Despite having a strong turf router pedigree, KING KID (Lemon Drop Kid - Very Very, by Royal Academy) won his debut sprinting over the Churchill dirt. He is by a Belmont Stakes hero and Champion Older Male out of a stakes winning turf miler, King Kid’s distaff line is fairly modest. King Kid enters the race with a strong five furlong move over the Gulfstream dirt.

REVERON (Songandaprayer - Carolina Sunrise, by Awesome Again) has improved steadily in every race, and posted wins in his last two contests. The Calder shipper has a speed over stamina pedigree, although his sire rarely produces winners past a mile. Reveron’s dam is a half-sister to a stakes winner and the second dam Stylish Star is a multiple stakes winner, counting the Del Mar Oaks amongst her wins. To prepare for his two turn debut, Reveron breezed a mile two works back.

Gold MegillahGOLD MEGILLAH (Purim - Touch Me Once, by Touch Gold) romped by over 18 lengths in the slop at Churchill in his last. Gold Megillah’s first crop sire has only four winners, but his offspring should improve with maturity and distance. Gold Megillah is the first foal produced by his dam. She’s a half-sister to a stakes placed runner and the second dam Theresa The Teacha is a Grade 3 winner. Travers runner-up Rattlesnake Bridge was produced by this distaff line.

NACHAS AND JOY (Lion Heart - Competent Sort, by Cahill Road) also won his maiden over a sloppy track. He’s a full brother to That’s A Good Thing, who was third in the Prairie Meadows Freshman. His dam is a stakes placed half-sister to the multiple listed stakes winner Derivative. The second dam, multiple Grade 1 winner Coup de Fusil set a new track record in the Delaware Handicap, getting 1 ¼ miles in 1:59 4/5.

CASUAL TRICK (Bernardini - Casual Look, byCasualTrick Red Ransom) led all of the way in his second start, scoring by 2 ½ lengths over maidens at Churchill. He’s a son of this year’s first crop sire sensation Bernardini. Casual Trick’s dam placed in a Group 2 as a juvenile and won the Epsom Oaks (Gr.1). This distaff line produced the brilliant Magnificience, who set a new stakes record in the Santa Paula. Casual Trick has been working strongly at Palm Meadows and brings a 5F bullet move into the race.

SILVER MENACE (Silver Wagon - Catmaker, by Magic Cat) has won both of his starts by a combined 8 ¾ lengths, but he switches to the barn of Kathy Ritvo, who is 0 for 14 with new horses. Silver Menace was the first winner for his first crop sire and his distaff family is modest. His dam is a half-sister to a restricted stakes winner.

AncientRome inside photo CogilaneseThe only stakes winner in the field, ANCIENT ROME (Roman Ruler - Wish It Were, by Is It True) grabbed the six furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes by a nose in his last start. Ancient Rome’s pedigree leans towards speed, however both his sire and damsire won beyond a mile. Ancient Rome’s dam was a multiple stakes winning sprinter and other than her son, owns the only blacktype in three generations of the distaff family.

POLITICALLYCORRECT (Kitten's Joy - Exceedexpectations, by Tale of the Cat) is one of the rare progeny of Champion Turf Horse Kitten’s Joy to post a win over the dirt. Politicallycorrect is one of two entrants who have been victorious at 1 1/16 miles over the gulfstream dirt. His distaff line has no blacktype in two generations. Politicallycorrect owns a recent strong bullet move for the Gulfstream Park Derby.

The other entry with a win at today’s distance is RAVELO'S BOY (Lawyer Ron - Dance Tune, by French Deputy). The son of deceased first crop stallion Lawyer Ron is seeking to become his sire’s fifth stakes winner. Ravelo's Boy has plenty of speed in his distaff line. His dam is a stakes placed sprinter, while his damsire was a top sprinter/miler. Although he owns a win at 1 1/16 miles, the distance may be at the top of Ravelo's Boy’s scope and his winning time was almost a full second slower than that of Politicallycorrect.

REX'S LAST TOUR (First Tour - Dr. Rexsonshope, by Rexson's Hope) is one for 10 and has been trounced by Ravelo's Boy and Ancient Rome. Rex's Last Tour is a half-brother to stakes placed Rexson’s Rose. He descends from the family of Florida Derby winner Hal’s Hope and the good Calder filly Mia’s Reflection.

Another son of Lawyer Ron, YOURHONORANDGLORY (Lawyer Ron - Glory of Love, by Not For Love) has won or placed in his last three starts. His dam is stakes placed, but overall, Yourhonorandglory’s distaff line is modest, filled with solid, durable claiming class runners.


Track Bias: Typically, Gulfstream’s track is speed favoring and horses in outside posts above a mile are forced wide due to the short distance to the first turn. Overall, 44% of the winners this meet have won on the front end. However, this week, three races have been contested at 1 1/16 miles and one run stalkers won two of them.

Politicallycorrect owns a win over the track at today’s distance, plus his speed figures are improving. He’s headed to his third start off of a layoff and fits well here. He doesn’t need the lead, but will be close to the pace. Casual Trick has the best pedigree of the group and he also owns the best works. King Kid is bred to relish two turns. He’ll sit off the lead but should be there at the end. Reveron brings a two race win streak to the table, but 1 1/6 miles may be stretching it. Ancient Rome also owns a two race win streak and there’s no doubt that he’s fast. He’ll be setting swift fractions and if he handles the distance, could run them off of their feet. Ravelo's Boy is the only stalker. He owns the best late-speed figure of all the entrants, and if they go too fast early, he could get up for a piece.





Friday, December 16, 2011

Brother Francis Intriguing Longshot in CashCall

The thirtieth running of the CashCall Futurity will be held on Saturday, December 17. In those 30 years, fourteen horses that have won or placed in this Grade 1 contest have won or placed in one or more of the Triple Crown Races. This year’s field includes a son of the 2003 Futurity hero Lion Heart and a son of the 2005 third place finisher Bob and John. The CashCall Futurity boasts plenty of stamina oriented pedigrees and an unusual overabundance of turf influences as well.

HANDSOMEMIKEHANDSOME MIKE (Scat Daddy - Classic Strike, by Smart Strike) switches to the barn of Doug O’Neil (16% with first time runners) after being caught late in the Generous (G3) going a mile over the lawn. His first crop sire Scat Daddy is making a name for himself as a sire of turf/synthetic runners. Not surprising since he’s a son of Champion Johannesburg. Distance shouldn’t be a problem for Handsome Mike, but the Cushion Track and his early running style could hinder him.

BROTHER FRANCIS (Lion Heart - Viapervita, by Spectrum) is still a maiden, but was flying at the end of both of his sprint starts. He has the pedigree to love two turns. His sire Lion Heart won the Futurity in 2003 and a year later was second behind Smarty Jones in the Kentucky Derby. Brother Francis’ distaff line is filled with European stamina and is strongly turf oriented. His damsire Spectrum won the 1 ¼ mile Champion Stakes (Eng. G-1) and Brother Francis’ dam won a stakes in Germany. Despite the turf influences, Brother Frances has shown ability over the main track.

GROOVIN' SOLO (Bob and John - Squall Linda, by Summer Squall) was unplaced in two starts at Del Mar this summer and so far has failed to live up to the reputations of his half brothers Norfolk Stakes (G1) winner Street Hero and Hollywood Futurity champ Premier Pegasus.

EMPIRE WAY (Empire Maker - Delta Princess,Empire Way by A.P. Indy) was tossed to the wolves in the Hollywood Prevue just eleven days after winning his maiden. the pretty gray colt was forced wide around the turn and made up ground in the stretch so his race wasn’t as bad as it appears on paper. Empire Way is a full brother to Breeders’ Cup Distaff heroine Royal Delta and he’s by a Belmont Stakes winner out of a daughter of a Belmont Stakes winner. Still, the lone work since the Prevue was average and they may be asking too much too soon.

Drill 1 PhotoBenoitThe first of three Baffert horses, DRILL (Lawyer Ron - Cat Dancer, by Storm Cat) clearly peaked back in September with a win in the DelMar Futurity. He’s raced six times since July and is clearly a tired horse. By deceased first crop sire Lawyer Ron, Drill should handle the distance, but not off form against this group.

SKY KINGDOM (Empire Maker - Sky Beam, bySKYKINGDOM Kingmambo) may be longer odds than his stablemate Drill, but is worth a hard look. He’s one of two horses in the field with a win over the Cushion Track at today’s distance. He’s the first foal for his dam. She went 0-5 on the track, but she’s a half sister to stakes winner Mambo In Seattle. Third dam is blue hen Weekend Surprise, dam of A.P. Indy, Summer Squall, Eavesdropper, Honor Grades, Saithor and she’s also the grand-dam of the top grass horse Court Vision. Sky Kingdom owns a series of good works and grabs the attention of Garrett Gomez.

BLINGO (Artie Schiller - Wassifa (GB), by Sure Blade) has a strong turf pedigree and won his debut over the surface. It appears Blingo’s connections are experimenting or this is a case of trying to make the horse something he’s not. His sire has only eleven winners over dirt, all in the maiden/allowance ranks, and none have been victorious over the Cushion Track. Blingo’s latest works over the dirt are dismal. Distance isn’t a problem but the track surface is.

ROUSINGSERMONROUSING SERMON (Lucky Pulpit - Rousing Again, by Awesome Again) was getting to Liaison in the Real Quiet Stakes and if he hadn’t gone wide, probably would have won the race. He’s progressed in each of his last three races and his latest works are excellent. A son of one of the best Poly sires, Lucky Pulpit, Rousing Sermon has the breeding on his distaff side to run all day.

Baffert’s third, but hardly least entry LIAISONLiasion (Indian Charlie - Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop) brings a two race win streak to the table along with a last out bullet breeze. Liaison is the third foal and first colt produced by his multiple turf stakes winning dam.

The pretty gray COZZETTI (Cozzene - Lemon Drop Cello, by Lemon Drop Kid) splashed his way to a five length win over maidens going 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Park. Despite all of the turf attributes in his pedigree, Cozzetti could be the rare son of Cozzene that prefers the dirt. His sire is represented by six listed stakes winners over the dirt. Cozzene is an average producer of synthetic track runners and has two listed stakes winners over the surface. Cozetti's ’am is a half sister to two stakes winners and his second dam is a French stakes winner. Cozzetti owns a tepid work over the Cushion Track.

Drill with Martin Garcia up wins the Del Mar Futurity, Del Mar Race Course. September 7, 2011 Credit: Alex Evers/Equisport PhotosAfter winning or placing in his first five starts over dirt and Polytrack, MAJESTIC CITY (City Zip – It’schemestrybaby, by Meadowlake) was tossed into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and was unplaced. Majestic City has won all three starts over this track as a precocious juvenile, but he struggled in his last two races over the synthetics. His sire City Zip’s dirt and synthetic offspring are distance challenged over a mile and 1 1/16 miles is likely at the top of Majestic City’s distance range. He owns a couple of sharp works over the track.

BASMATI (Borrego - Abruzzi Ridge, by Mountain

BASMATI Cat) after winning his maiden at Santa Anita, Basmati was a very distant second in the Delta Jackpot against a weak field and he’s unplaced against graded stakes runners in California. Basmati has a stamina-oriented pedigree and will benefit with time and distance. His sire’s only stakes wins came at 1 ¼ miles, in the Jockey Gold Cup and Pacific Classic. Basmati’s dam went 0 for 4 in her career on the track. She’s a half-sister to Molly Pitcher (G2) heroine March Magic.

DESORMAIS (War Front - Desert Princess (IRE), by Desert King (IRE)) is a winner at 1 ¼ miles over Polytrack. Yes, you read that right, but he won his maiden in France in a yawning 2:12 4/5. Plus, he hasn’t breezed in a month, at least not at Hollywood. His dam is a half sister to the good Calder turf stakes winner Ballast. The Gallagher barn is 17% with shippers to the US, but only 9% with graded stakes winners.





#2 BROTHER FRANCIS – longshot pick