Friday, March 30, 2012

Florida Derby: Union Rags vs. El Padrino

The roster of Florida Derby winners who made an impact on the Triple Crown races reads like a who’s who of racing. In the last eleven years, six winners or runners up in the Florida Derby won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes. Monarchos and Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby, Big Brown won the Derby and Preakness, Empire Maker won the Belmont, and Shackleford, second place in last year’s Florida Derby, won the Preakness. Additionally, 2010 Florida Derby champ Ice Box was second in the Kentucky Derby.

UnionRagsPhotoCoglinese1This year, the heralded trainer of the courageous Barbaro is back with the sensational Union Rags, who is the morning line 6-5 favorite to win the Florida Derby. Similar to all except one of his races, UNION RAGS (Dixie Union - Tempo, by Gone West) laughed at his competition in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, winning under wraps. His nearest competitor, News Pending, was four lengths back in second.

ElPadrino PhotoCoglineseThe stiffest challenge to Union Rags’ supremacy is expected to come from the Risen Star hero, EL PADRINO (Pulpit - Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway). This colt is just as large as Union Rags and proved that he won’t back down from a fight. El Padrino’s female family is loaded with talented stars and the mares of this distaff line are excellent producers.

NewsPendingPhotoColignieseRajiv Maragh jumps back aboard NEWS PENDING (Harlan's Holiday - Motivated Sreva, by Lear Fan), who was a distant second to Union Rags in the Fountain of Youth. News Pending’s speed figures have been improving in every race and he can be placed anywhere in the race and still make his run. His sire won the Florida Derby and News Pending’s dam won up to 1 1/8 miles. The colt should receive a decent inside trip.

ReveronREVERON (Songandaprayer - Carolina Sunrise, by Awesome Again) takes the blinkers off for the Florida Derby after he was out gamed in the Sam Davis Stakes by 1 ½ lengths. The Calder shipper has a speed over stamina pedigree. The progeny of Songandaprayer are distance challenged and none have won a stakes race at 1 1/8 miles. The Bezera barn is 0 for 3 with the blinkers off angle.

TakeChargeIndyTAKE CHARGE INDY (A.P. Indy - Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) was inhaled by Risen Star hero El Padrino in their three year old debut and finished second beaten two lengths. He missed a work before the Tampa Bay Derby and whatever his trainer’s reasons, they skipped the race. Take Charge Indy’s dam Take Charge Lady is a multiple Grade 1 veteran who won the Spinster (twice), Ashland, Arlington Matron, and placed in the Kentucky Oaks. Take Charge Indy should be ready to roll, but trainer Patrick Byrne is 0 for 23 with horses off a layoff and 0 for 6 in graded stakes.

NeckNNeckNECK 'N NECK (Flower Alley - Bootery, by Storm Boot) has been no match for Discreet Dancer or Reveron this year. Neck N’ Neck has no notable blacktype in two generations of his distaff line. He found some trouble in the Fountain of Youth, but finished a steady, non-threatening fourth. He appears to be a late maturing colt, and has been recording some high late pace speed figures. That along with his pedigree and running style indicates that he should handle 1 1/8 miles.

fort-loudon Photo Jim LisaFORT LOUDON (Awesome of Course - Lottsa Talc, by Talc) has proven repeatedly that he is a cut below the graded stakes runners at this point in his career. He’s a nice Florida bred from a good family and always tries hard.

BARTOLOME (Toccet - Competition, by Dixie Union) finished in another zip code behind El Padrino and Take Charge Indy in an optional claimer. A race later he was no threat to Heavy Breathing, who came back to finish third in the Spiral. There’s no notable blacktype in his distaff line and Bartolome may find 1 1/8 miles at the top of his comfort zone.

Z CAMELOT ( Smart Strike - Madame Thor, by Deputy Minister) is still a maiden after four starts. His half-brother is stakes placed over dirt, but Z Camelot’s dam is a half-sister to the stakes winning turfer Dynazapper. Z Camelot has the pedigree to do well over the turf. Hopefully, he won’t mug Union Rags coming out of the gate or during the race.



Track bias: Speed rules at Gulfstream and outside posts guarantee a wide trip at 1 1/8 miles. Pace pressers win 38% of the races. One run types are at a disadvantage and are successful only 8% of the time.

So far, UNION RAGS has done everything right. So has EL PADRINO, but EL PADRINO is coming off of a tough race where he had to ship, and has a slight post disadvantage. REVERON is hindered by an outside post, distance limited pedigree and his so-so performance against lesser horses. NEWS PENDING appears a logical choice to finish in the money. He’s been improving at the right time. TAKE CHARGE INDY runs very quick early pace figures, but his late pace leaves something to be desired. He has enough class to finish in the money, but I see him being passed in the stretch like he’s tied to the rail. NECK N’ NECK is worth a longshot look to complete the tri or super at long odds.




#4 NECK N’ NECK – Longshot

Check out the Louisiana Derby pedigrees and selections at the main IMT WEBSITE

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Stretching out in the Spiral and Sunland

This weekend’s prep races test wanna-be Derby contenders for stamina. Both the Vinery Spiral (G-2) at Turfway Park and the Sunland Derby (G-3) held in New Mexico, are held at 1 1/8 miles. We’ll see a separation between the milers and route runners.

Check out ThoroFan’s Handicapper’s Corner for a review of the VINERY SPIRAL by Derek Brown.


In the last eleven editions of the Sunland Derby, only one horse, Ruler On Ice, has made any noise in the Spring Classics. Ruler On Ice was third in last year’s Sunland Derby then later won the Belmont Stakes.

DADDY NOSE BEST (Scat Daddy - Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch) is the only entrant to have contested a race at 1 1/8 miles and he won the El Camino Real Derby, appropriately enough, by a nose. He is one of two stalkers in the speed-laden Sunland Derby.

Bob Baffert entered two colts in the race, the front running speedster Castaway and the stalking Stirred Up.

CASTAWAY (Street Sense - Priceless Storm, by Storm Cat) won the first division of the Southwest Stakes by over three lengths. The runners-up, Jake Mo and Reckless Jerry, placed fourth and tenth respectively in the Rebel (G-3). In retrospect, Castaway’s easy Southwest victory may not have been as good as it looked. This is likely why he’s in New Mexico rather than facing stronger horses elsewhere. Castaway is a slower maturing horse, but he has a good pedigree and should handle 1 1/8 miles. His dam is a half-sister to the graded stakes winners Master Command and Aurora Lights. The second dam is a full sister to the sire Lost Soldier and G1 heroine La Gueriere, dam of the top mare Icon Project and grand-dam of sprint specialist Munnings. Other top runners in this family include the top turf runner Honor In War, Al Mamoon and Super Derby hero Apart. Trainer Bob Baffert wins with 30% of his shippers.

Baffert’s “B” horse is the recent maiden winner STIRRED UP (Lemon Drop Kid - Summer Delight, by Quiet American). The farther they go, the better Stirred Up should like it. He’s a late maturing, stalking type and winds up here for a class test rather than facing tougher graded stakes runners elsewhere. Besides having stakes winning and stakes placed half siblings, Stirred Up’s distaff family includes Horse of the Year Havre De Grace, the multiple graded turf winning mare Riskaverse, Champion Sprinter Plugged Nickel (who incidentally won the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial) and that one’s full sister, Stakes winner Toll Booth, who is Stirred Up’s third dam. As if that wasn’t enough blue blood, Stirred Up has a rare double “RF” (Rasmussen Factor inbreeding) to the blue hens Lassie Dear and Missy Baba, plus his sire and dam are both descended from the same distaff line, which is fairly uncommon in the US.

What would a Kentucky Derby prep race be without a Todd Pletcher runner? ENDER KNIEVEL (Distorted Humor - Ender's Sister, by A.P. Indy) switched to the star trainer’s barn this year and promptly won his maiden race by over seven lengths after the ultimate equipment change. With his mind now on racing, the gelding should improve with time and distance. Ender Knievel’s dam and her full brother Ender’s Shadow were hardy multiple graded stakes placed runners on the track. Ender Knievel may wind up contesting the pace with Castaway.

Local hope ISN'T HE CLEVER (Smarty Jones - Sharp Minister, by Deputy Minister)was beaten nine lengths in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. He clearly likes Sunland Park as he set a new stakes record in the Riley Allison Futurity at two and last month took the Borderland Derby by 1 ¼ lengths. By Kentucky Derby hero Smarty Jones, Isn’t He Clever has a deceptively nice pedigree. He’s a half-brother to the English Group 3 miler Dijeerr and multiple stakes winner Sharp Writer. Isn’t He Clever’s dam was unplaced in two starts, but she’s a full sister to the multiple graded stakes turf router Flag Down and a half-sister is stakes placed. Isn’t He Clever’s pedigree indicates that he should handle the 1 18 mile distance.

The pretty gray JUSTANOLDSONG (Unbridled's Song - Dontgetinmyway, by Machiavellian) has been working sharply after his 14 lengths drubbing by Isn’t He Clever in the Borderland Derby in only his second start. Justanoldsong’s ¾ brother is stakes placed Sinai and their dam is a half sister to multiple G-2 winner Even The Score. The second, third and fourth dams all own multiple blacktype and this is the family of Grade 1 winner Formal Gold and the top sprinter Noonmark. The Wolochuck barn wins 18% route races.

TEQUILA FACTOR (Pure Prize - Single Factor, by Mutakddim) hasn’t been within the same zip code as Isn’t He Clever in two starts over dirt. He’s facing tougher here. NO SPIN (Johannesburg - Dash for Money, by General Meeting) hasn’t finished in the money in four lifetime starts over the dirt.


Track Bias: One race has been held at 1 1/8 miles this meet and it was won by a stalker. Two of the last three editions of the Sunland Derby have been won by mid-pack runners. The last two races were won by horses who lit up the tote board.

The Sunland Derby sets up with plenty of speed. CASTAWAY and ENDER KNIEVEL may wind up trading punches on the lead. Not using him, which is probably a mistake, but he’s adding an additional furlong and shipping after a maiden win. ISN’T HE CLEVER should get a nice stalking trip behind the top two. He likes this track and could pull an upset. STIRRED UP shows signs of running a big one and Baffert is known for winning with his “B” horses. He breezed a bullet two works back and has the best late pace figure in the race. DADDY NOSE BEST has a win at this distance under his girth. He’ll be trying dirt for the third time in his career.

JUSTANOLDSONG is an intriguing longshot, given the last two surprise endings of the Sunland Derby.




#8 JUSTANOLDSONG – longshot pick

Friday, March 16, 2012

Long Shots Worth a Look in the Rebel Stakes

Since 1976 when Elocutionist placed in the Rebel Stakes (G-2) and later won the Preakness, the Oaklawn contest has been a good preview of Triple Crown race winners. Sunny’s Halo and Smarty Jones pulled off a Rebel/Kentucky Derby double, while Temperence Hill, Pine Bluff, Victory Gallop, Curlin, and Lookin At Lucky won the Rebel and the Preakness and/or Belmont Stakes. The hero of this year’s Rebel Stakes may be worth a second look in the Triple Crown contests.

SecretCircleScatmanSix contestants of the Southwest Stakes are back to wage battle.

 SECRET CIRCLE, SCATMAN, ADIRONDACK KING, PEE H DEE, and CYBER SECRET the top five finishers in the second division of the Southwest are joined by runners-up from the first division, JAKE MO, RECKLESS JERRY , RING IT UP and UNBRIDLED'S NOTE who seeks a do-over after a troubled ninth place finish.

SabercatMaking a highly anticipated three year old debut is SABERCAT (Bluegrass Cat - Miner's Blessing, by Forty Niner), hero of last year’s Delta Jackpot. He likely won’t be cranked, and thanks to the huge purse of the Jackpot, is an automatic shoo-in for the Kentucky Derby. He has a miler oriented pedigree and is suspect for distances past 1 1/16 miles.

There are three newcomers to the Oaklawn Park stakes scene.

ATIGUN (Istan - Rimini Road, by Dynaformer) won his three year old debut while beating Ring It Up by a neck in an allowance last time out. His sire’s offspring haven’t done a whole lot to date, but may improve with racing. Atigun has little blacktype in his distaff line, but his second dam is a half-sister to top NY sire Cure The Blues. Antigun has no early speed and will make his run from the back of the pack.

NajjaarThe light bulb turned on this year for NAJJAAR (Jazil - Hasheema (IRE), by Darshaan). After winning his maiden, Najjaar came back to beat older horses. Both races were at today’s distance. As expected, his sire’s offspring are slow to mature and so far, only a handful have won. They will improve with time and distance. Jazil is a half-brother to Rags To Riches, who also won the Belmont Stakes, in an epic battle with Curlin. Najjaar has little speed in his pedigree and his immediate distaff family has no notable blacktype.

We’re hoping the light bulb goes on for the once great Wayne Lukas. His well-bred charge OPTIMIZER (English Channel - Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy) did well over the turf and Polytrack last year, but hasn’t hit the board in four dirt attempts, including a 13 length drubbing by El Padrino in the Risen Star Stakes. Not surprising, given his turf pedigree. The son of English Channel has a strong stamina oriented distaff family. His dam Indy Pick is a half-sister to the top race mare Finder’s Fee, heroine of the Matron (G1) at two and the Acorn (G1) at three, as well as other graded stakes events. Another half-sister, Freedom of Speech, produced the multiple stakes winning turf veteran T D Vance.



Track bias: Oaklawn plays relatively fair, although 32% of the front runners, win. No rain is forecasted and the track should be fast.

The final time for the first division of the Southwest Stakes was a full second slower than the second division. Jake Mo, Restless Jerry and Ring It Up didn’t have any excuses, but Unbridled’s Note did. He’s well-bred and should be fit. If he can get away cleanly, he certainly has the speed to stick with the front runners. We’ll see if he’s good enough. His odds are attractive at 20-1 and he’s trained by Asmussen who gets 21% winners second time out.

Secret Circle owns a ton of speed, but after winning the Southwest Stakes, he shipped back to Santa Anita. He ships again, has speed to his inside and tacks on an additional 1/8 mile, so he could be vulnerable. He’ll be up on the lead fighting with Scatman and Cyber Secret may join them. That one shouldn’t be stuck four wide and with a better trip, he could surprise. Adirondack King and Najjaar are stalkers who should come running at the end. Sabercat could be right there with them, but his time in the Delta Jackpot was slow and nothing notable came out of that race. Let’s play against the chalk.

#2 Unbridled’s Note

#3 Scatman

#11 Najjaar

#4 Cyber Secret – longshot pick


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tampa Bay Derby in National Spotlight

The Tampa Bay Derby caught the national attention in 2007 when Street Sense, the previous year’s Two Year Old Champ, used the race as a springboard to a victory in the Kentucky Derby. Just three years later, Super Saver finished third in the Tampa Bay Derby before taking home the roses in May.

This year’s Tampa Bay Derby is the focus of twelve colts seeking earnings to get them to Kentucky on May 5.

battlehardenedThe winner of the Sam F. Davis Stakes has finished in the top three in the Tampa Bay Derby since 2006. This year, BATTLE HARDENED (Giant's Causeway - Jen's Fashion, by Northern Fashion) entered the Sam F. Davis a maiden and exited the race a stakes winner. This colt has a classic pedigree. His half-brother Colonial Colony won the Stephen Foster (G-1) and his dam Jen’s Fashion was a juvenile stakes winner. Battle Hardened has shown versatility to come from off of the pace or run on the lead. He’s shown Brisnet speed figure improvement in every race.

ProspectivePhotoMichaelBurnsPROSPECTIVE (Malibu Moon - Spirited Away, by Awesome Again) finished 1 ¼ lengths behind Battle Hardened in the Sam F. Davis. The Mark Casse trainee ran farther than the rest, stuck five wide on the first turn and six wide on the second. Despite this, Prospective closed strongly for second place. Prospective has a stamina oriented pedigree, perfect for the Classic distances. His sire Malibu Moon, a son of A.P. Indy, is represented by seven stakes winners at 1 ¼ miles. Prospective’s dam Spirited Away won the Truly Bound Handicap at 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy track. Prospective is her first foal. There isn’t much black type in the second distaff generation; however, Prospective’s third dam North Sider was Champion Older Mare of 1982.

RAVELO'S BOY (Lawyer Ron - Dance Tune, by French Deputy) has won twice in 11 attempts and he’s a stalker with no early speed. Like Prospective, Ravelo’s Boy was six wide around the final turn in the Sam F. Davis, but gained steadily for fourth place, beaten only 1 ¼ lengths and two noses away from second place. Trained by Manny Azpurna, the Chestnut colt had a three furlong bullet lung opener, so he may be a little closer to the pace.

TakeChargeIndyStakes-placed TAKE CHARGE INDY (A.P. Indy - Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) was inhaled by Risen Star hero El Padrino in their three year old debut and finished second beaten two lengths. Take Charge Indy’s dam Take Charge Lady is a multiple Grade 1 veteran who won the Spinster (twice), Ashland, Arlington Matron, and placed in the Kentucky Oaks. She won or placed in 18 of 22 starts, earning over two million dollars. Take Charge Indy breezed a last work bullet and should be close to the pace in the Tampa Bay Derby.

CAJUNCHARLIECAJUN CHARLIE (Afternoon Deelites - Cigar Charlie, by Tour d'Or) was a big fish in a small pond at Delta Downs. Now he takes on a stronger class of runners. Cajun Charlie has defeated his rivals by a combined 13 lengths in his last three starts, including two state-bred stakes. He’s a half-brother to a stakes winner and stakes placed runner and his dam was also a stakes winner. He has a hardy blue-collar pedigree and he may try to wire the field.

springhillfarmUndefeated SPRING HILL FARM (Smart Strike - Colonial Ministrel, by Pleasant Colony) won both of his starts for fun and is ready to step it up. The well-bred colt is a half-brother to two stakes winning sprinters, and despite all of the stamina in his distaff line, his multiple graded stakes winning dam never won past a mile. Spring Hill Farm traces his distaff line back to the blue hen and Champion mare Gallorette and the Champion Saint Liam is part of this family. The Todd Pletcher colt popped a five furlong bullet breeze for the Tampa Derby and may once again play come and catch me on the lead.

The lightly raced CHIEF ENERGY (Ghostzapper - Blissful Kiss, by Kissin Kris) has picked a tough spot for his three year old debut. He showed nothing in his final race, a foray onto the turf. Chief Energy has a late-maturing, distance oriented pedigree. Although there isn’t a tremendous amount of black-type in his pedigree, Chief Energy’s dam and second dam were both multiple stakes winners. Making his first start for James Toner, Chief Energy has been working well at Palm Meadows.

CozzettiThe pretty gray COZZETTI (Cozzene - Lemon Drop Cello, by Lemon Drop Kid) flashed promise in a maiden win over a sloppy Churchill surface, but still hasn’t figured out what he wants to be when he grows up. After off the board finishes over turf and Polytrack, Cozetti gets back on the dirt. With the bloodlines of Champion turfers Cozzene, Kingmambo and Caerleon, Cozzetti seemed perfect for the turf, but he may have a personal preference of dirt. His distaff line shows an affinity for the off track, as Cozzetti’s dam is a half-sister to two stakes winners who won in the mud. Showers are expected Saturday in Tampa.

The locally based TELL ALL YOU KNOW (Van Nistelrooy - Withdrawn, by Phone Trick) is undefeated in two starts at Tampa and dips a hoof into graded stakes company. He’s a half-brother to the speedy multiple stakes winning sprinter Don’ttalktome. There are some minor stakes winners scattered throughout his pedigree and Tell All You Know has a miler’s pedigree. The Chad Stewart barn is 0 for 9 in graded stakes.

GOLDEN TICKET (Speightstown - Business Plan, by Deputy Minister) took his time winning his maiden, but got the job done when he stretched out to two turns in his last start. His dam is a half-sister to a stakes winning turf miler and his second dam, Good Mood, won the G-3 Miss Grillo. Trainer Kenny McPeek has a 20% win rate with maidens jumping into stakes company.

TWIN (Omega Code - Cuchu, by Storm Creek) recently broke through with a victory over state-bred maidens in his twelfth start. He’s shown ability at the state-bred level, placing in a couple of stakes races at Calder, but this is a tough jump for him. The Maestre barn is 0 for 5 with shippers.

FOX RULES (Roman Ruler - Shesastonecoldfox, by Foxhound) folded like a K-Mart lawn chair after pressing the pace in the Sam F. Davis. He’s hit the board once in six lifetime starts. His dam was a good New York bred sprinter, but Fox Rules appears up against it here.


Track bias: The track is playing fair, unless you are a come from the clouds stalker. They’re winning at 11%. There’s a 40% chance of rain on Saturday.

SPRING HILL FARM is the likely favorite. Hey, it’s Pletcher. BATTLE HARDENED, PROSPECTIVE and RAVELO'S BOY will come running at the end. TAKE CHARGE INDY should be sharper in his second start off of a layoff. Keep an eye on COZZETTI if the track is sloppy.




#1 PROSPECTIVE – longshot



(by guest blogger Paul Mazur)


The Grade Two, $300K San Felipe Stakes is Southern California’s final feeder race to the G1 Santa Anita Derby in early April. Although it’s been a dozen years since a San Felipe winner won the Kentucky Derby (Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000), the race has been a productive one. Recent Winners like Point Given, Medaglia d’ Oro, and Sidney’s Candy have gone to stakes success later in their careers. Past winners of fame include Bertrando, Sunday Silence, and Affirmed.

Let’s meet the field. (At publish time, morning line odds were not available.)

Santa Anita -- Race 9 -- 1 1/16 miles on dirt -- post time 4:38 PT

1. BLINGO (Artie Schiller -- Wassita, by Sure Blade). He was put on the shelf after being sixth, beaten less than three lengths in the Cash Call Futurity and a win at first asking on Hollywood Park turf. He enters off five six furlong works over at Hollywood Park. The J. Sherrifs/M. Smith jockey trainer team of Zenyatta are behind this gelding. The closing style is an okay fit and there will be enough pace to deal with. However, this will be the first start on natural dirt and the pedigree leans a lot more to turf and synthetics. Could see him passing some tired runners and sneaking into the bottom half of the superfecta.

2. BODEMEISTER (Empire Maker -- Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat). When he won his maiden special weight race on February 11th by nine and one-quarter lengths going a solid mile in 1:34 2/5, the public oohed and aahed. With Bob Baffert at the training helm, you knew he’d be thrust into Graded Stakes company. Well, almost thirty days off the win he arrives in this G2. Bejerano takes the call. The works have been a bit slow for a trainer that often is quick with works. Moreover, he got a free lunch on the front end that day and that isn’t likely to happen again. I think he’s worth taking a stand against.

3. AMERICAN ACT (Quiet American -- Revolutionary Act, by Boston Harbor). I liked this Carava runner in the G2 San Vicente and he was the recipient of a bone-headed ride by Martin Pedroza. There, Pedroza throttled him back a little too much and got nailed on the line by Drill. He’s back here, going two turns for the first time. He’s in a tough spot: send early and risk dueling with BODEMEISTER or take back and hope he can rate, however he did demonstrate that minimally three back at Hollywood. Worse, he’s going two turns for the first time. Neither pace situation seems like a good proposition, but I’ll use him in the trifecta off the learning experience last out.

4. MIDNIGHT TRANSFER (Hard Spun -- French Stain, by French Deputy) Another runner going two turns for the first time. Winner of the listed San Pedro Stakes last time, he sat behind a fast pace and closed well. Solid trainer statistics across the board. He’s another that you have to wonder if he can handle two turns, but the pedigree and the trainer stats make this one a hard toss.

5. GROOVIN’ SOLO (Bob and John -- Squall Linda, by Summer Squall) Two starts back he got his diploma going two turns at Santa Anita. From there, he was thrown into the deep end in the G2 Lewis Stakes. He was third, placed seventh via disqualifcation for interference. He comes in off two five furlong bullet works at Santa Anita, and first call rider A. Quinonez has the riding duties. He’s certainly proven better at three than at two, the works are encouraging, but he certainly flunked the graded stakes acid test last time. Maybe a better fit for an allowance race.

6. LIAISON (Indian Charlie -- Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop). His effort in the Lewis Stakes five weeks ago was a dud, as he lost the rider. So he’ll be going second off the layoff, and has the services of Bob Baffert and his first call rider, Martin Garcia. Before the winter vacation, he won the listed Real Quiet and G1 Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park. Blinkers come off for today’s test. The pace up front should be quick enough to suit him, and this distance is in his pedigree range. Think he gets the winning trip.

7. CREATIVE CAUSE (Giant’s Causeway -- Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer). He made his first start off the winter layoff last time in the G2 San Vicente going seven furlongs. It was a distance too short and according to on-track reports he was not at top fitness. Perhaps he’ll be more fit today. On the other hand, he’s got enough earnings to make the Kentucky Derby right now so the connections don’t have to ratchet all the way for this test. While he’s capable on his best day, the connections want to the best in May and not the best in March. Underneath.

8. ROUSING SERMON (Lucky Pulpit -- Rousing Again, by Awesome Again) Second in both his winter two-year-old stakes to LIAISON at Hollywood, he made his first start off the shelf last time in the Lewis Stakes, finishing fourth but placed third. He had trouble in the Lewis, and he did have a good closing kick back at Hollywood. Worth noting that as a two year old he also won a statebred stakes, the Cal Cup Juvenile going two turns at Santa Anita. If the pace gets wicked on the front end he has a puncher’s chance. But I don’t think he improved from age two to age three and I won’t be using him.

9. TIZ POINT (Tiznow -- Windmill Point, by Storm Bird) Garrett Gomez returns to stakes company here after suffering a broken heel. He takes the call on a front-runner that will be on the front end with BODEMEISTER and possibly AWESOME ACT. Broke his maiden upstate at Golden Gate, then collected two checks in allowance company and went backwards three back in the Real Quiet. Worth noting he won an N1X allowance last out. I think he goes up front with BODEMEISTER, forces the pace, and goes backward through the stretch. Toss.

10. EMPIRE WAY (Empire Maker -- Delta Princess, by A. P. Indy) The second of two horses trained by Mike Harrington, CREATIVE CAUSE being the other one. He was second in the Lewis when closing off a moderate pace, but that was only his second money finish after winning at first asking last fall across town at Hollywood. Rider downgrade from Rosario to Blanc. He may have a sterling pedigree, but I think he got a more advantageous pace set up last time. Not the worst horse to use, but not the best either.





Longshot: The Cho/Quinonez trainer/jockey team behind last year’s San Felipe winner Premier Pegasus are represented with GROOVIN SOLO. This is a team that has sent out quite a few long-priced horses when working together on the Southern California circuit. May be more focused with the blinkers off after getting disqualified in the Lewis. Most importantly, he’s shown his best form after turning three and when placed on the dirt. The pedigree is full of capable routers.


Paul Mazur is the author of the horse racing blog, “Picks and Ponderings on Chicago Horse Racing”. He has also written for WirePlayers, Graded Stakes, and Thorofan. He lives, writes, and wagers in Chicago.