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