Friday, July 12, 2013

The Final Juvenile Championship

A field of only seven colts are headed to the final edition of the six furlong Hollywood Juvenile Championship. Willie B Awesome and Solid Wager, the second and third place finishers in the Willard Proctor, will attempt to add more blacktype to their resumes.

Willie B Awesome (Awesome Gambler - Cause I'm Tricky, by Nineeleven) grabbed the lead in the stretch of the Willard Proctor but was passed by the winner. He held on for second over a short neck ahead of Solid Wager.

Solid Wager (Birdonthewire - G Ma, by Valid Wager) raced in the back of the field early in the Willard Proctor and went three wide on the turn, finishing a jump behind Willie B Awesome. The extra distance should suit him.

Alpine Luck (Lucky J. H. - I Can Yodele, by Swiss Yodeler) wired the field in his maiden win getting 5F in a respectable :58 2/5. He held of Ontology by a measured length. Alpine Luck is a half to two-time juvenile stakes winner Swiss Wild Cat.

Ontology (Tapit - Shytoe Lafeet, by King of Kings (IRE)) is the first foal out of his multiple stakes winning dam. Shytoe Lafeet was a versatile earner of over $300K, winning at a mile to 1 1/16 over dirt and turf. Ontology should appreciate more distance.

The remaining three colts are first time starters. Knock Em Flat (Flatter - Malamado, by Broken Vow) was a $350K OBS April two year old in training purchase after working a furlong in :10.1. He's the first foal out of his dam. She proved to be camera shy, visiting the winners' circle only once in seven starts. Malamado is a half sister to the multiple G-2 heroine Tar Heel Mom (by Flatter) and to G-3 winner Scrappy T (by Fit to Fight), who is best known for causing Afleet Alex to stumble in the Preakness. Knock Em Flat's sire Flatterer is noted for getting older stakes winners (Flat Out, Tar Heel Mom, etc.) but he's also a sneaky good juvenile sire, getting 39% winners, but only 9% win first time out.

Bond Holder (Mineshaft - Cielo Girl, by Conquistador Cielo) brought $125K at the OBS March two year old in training sale after breezing a furlong in :10.2. Mineshaft's offspring win only 6% as first time starters. Cielo Girl was a solid dirt sprinter, in the money 20 of her 31 starts, including stakes. She wasn't precocious, needing five starts to win. Bond Holder is from the same people who brought us Derby/Preakness winner I'll Have Another. The O'Neil barn is 13% with first time starters, but Bond Holder will likely improve with racing.

Carson's Ten (Rock Hard Ten - Carson's Dane, by Carson City) is the first foal out of his dam to race. She went 0-3 in her career, but is a half to Sands Point (G-3) winner Raw Silk. The majority of Rock Hard Ten's offspring are best over turf and Polytrack. 11% of his offspring win at first asking.


Solid Wager will appreciate the extra distance and represents a high percentage barn. Willie B Awesome has improved his speed figures in every start and had a strong work for this race. Alpine Luck has also improved in every race. Of the three newcomers, Knock Em Flat has the most class and worked a quick five furlongs from the gate in his last breeze.

#2 Alpine Luck

#5 Solid Wager

#6 Willie B Awesome

Friday, June 28, 2013

Precocious Talent in the Bashford Manor

The 111 running of the Bashford Manor is the first graded stakes race held for two year olds. Typical of early season juvenile stakes races, distance challenged sprinters are prevalent in the six furlong event held at Churchill Downs. The last colt to win/place in the Grade 3 event and have an influence on the following year’s Classics was 1989 Bashford Manor champ Summer Squall. The back to back winners in 2006 and 2007, Circular Quay and Kodiak Kowboy, became multiple graded sprinter/milers.

This year's Bashford Manor field holds seven contestants and two from the Asmussen barn.

The stronger of the entry, D'CAJUN CAT (D'wildcat - Rabiadella, by Dynaformer), broke from the #2 position in his debut, sat professionally behind the dueling speed and collared them around the turn. He raced briefly with the second place finisher before drawing off easily by 5 ¼ lengths over a sloppy track. D'cajun Cat was one of the top-priced juveniles to sell at the OBSMAR sale for $300K after working a furlong in :10 flat. He's a half to seven winners, including the ultra precocious multiple stakes winner Say a Novena, who set a track record at Monmouth at two. D'cajun Cat is also a half to the G-2 winner Diadella and stakes winner El Kingdom.

In his debut, GUN ROAR (Bernstein - Roaring Twenties, by Dixieland Band) broke well, but couldn't keep up with the leaders early on. Down the sloppy stretch, he appeared beaten, but with constant flogging by his jock, quickened on the inside to catch the fighting leaders by a neck. Gun Roar

is the seventh foal born of his dam to make it to the races. Three of his half siblings are winners, one is a stakes winner and one is graded stakes placed. Their dam won the G-1 Selena Stakes.

Debt_CeilingDEBT CEILING (Discreet Cat - Top Marks, by Marquetry) won both starts by a combined seven lengths, including the Rollicking Stakes at Pimlico. All five of his half sibs to start are winners, including the stakes placed veteran, Dean's List. Both his dam and second dam top Princess are stakes winners. Debt Ceiling worked a bullet for the Bashford Manor. Trainer John Robb is 0-4 in graded stakes, but wins with 20% shippers.

What's a two year old race at Churchill without Wesley Ward? His charge HOLLYWOOD TALENT (Talent Search - Intrinsic Value, by Johannesburg) grabbed the lead in his debut and never looked back, winning his 4 ½ F race in :51 by 3 ½ lengths at Keeneland. Hollywood Talent's young sire is #5 on the freshman sire leader board with six runners and two winners. There's no blacktype in the first two generations of his female family.

RUNKLE (Yes It's True - Elizabeth Street, by Street Cry (IRE)) and SANDBAR (War Pass - Summer Cruise, by Vicar) were courageous in their debut. With three horses fighting it out down to the wire, Runkle came in slightly, creating a pinball effect with Sandbar on the outside. Runkle drew off to win by a couple lengths, but was disqualified, giving Sandbar the win. Both colts immediate distaff families are light on blacktype, however Sandbar's dam is a stakes winning sprinter.

MY CORINTHIAN (Corinthian - Texas Rush, by Wild Rush) blew away maidens by over seven lengths in his inaugural race, going 5F on turf. His dam is a stakes placed dirt sprinter and overall, his pedigree is strongly dirt oriented. The Kobiskie barn is 22% with shippers.


D'CAJUN CAT is the best-bred colt in the field and is sent out by the strong Asmussen barn, whose Del Mar Holiday placed in last week's Debutante. DEBT CEILING exited a stakes race and breezed two sub 1:00 5F. He'll be sharp and doesn't need the lead to win. It would be dangerous to overlook the connections of Ward/Ramsey at Churchill. Their HOLLYWOOD TALENT has been working forwardly at Keeneland. MY CORINTHIAN owns the highest late-pace speed figure in the race.




#4 DEBT CEILING – longshot pick

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Teardrops in the Debutante

ChurchillFor over 200 years, aristocratic fillies have won the Churchill Downs Debutante Stakes. The roll call of winners include Alcibiades, Bewitch, Furl Sail, Hollywood Wildcat, Silverbullitday, Chilukki, and Cashiers Dream, who set a 5 ½ furlong record of 1:02 2/5. Fillies that placed in the Debutante but later went on to championship seasons are Countess Dianna and Rachel Alexandra.

The Debutante past performances read more like an allowance race than a stakes. All eleven fillies are last out maiden winners. Six of them appear to have a strong shot of having their picture taken in the winners' circle.

TeardropThe pretty gray TEARDROP (Tapit - Wild Vision, by Wild Again) is one of the best bred fillies in the Debutante. She's a full sister to War Echo, who placed in the Golden Rod (G-2) as a juvenile and was victorious in the Silverbulletday (G-3) at three. Teardrop is also a ¾ sister to the multiple graded stakes winning miler Pyro (by Pulpit), hero of the Forego (G-1), Louisiana Derby (G-2), etc. Another ¾ brother, Longview Drive, is a stakes winning juvenile and placed in the Delta Jackpot (G-3). Teardrop was very green in her debut. She broke slow, veered to the outside, blew the turn going seven wide and passed the rest of the field in the stretch like they were tied to the rail. She flashed under the wire 3 ¾ lengths in front, getting 5F in :58 2/5.

Teardrop's stablemate DEL MAR HOLIDAY (Sharp Humor - Harvest Girl, by Apollo) needed two starts to win her maiden. She dueled on the lead, then pulled away to win the over a wet-fast track by two lengths, getting 5F in :59 1/5. Next out winner Mi Perlita finished fourth. Del Mar Holiday is a half sister to the multiple stakes winning sprinter Winning Image (by Southern Image).

YOKOHAMA MAMA (Purim - Mon Cherie, by Afleet) came from off of the pace to win her debut. She owns a last out bullet breeze of 4F in a sharp :47 2/5. Her half sister to Flying Kiwi (by More Than Ready) placed in a stakes at two. Trainer Randy Morse takes over her conditioning. The stable is 9% with maidens to stakes angle.

FiftyshadesofgoldFIFTYSHADESOFGOLD (My Golden Song - Hadif Cat, by Hadif) sat behind the pace until being loosed in the stretch, blowing them away by 10 lengths at Lone Star in a very sharp :57 3/5 for 5F. The pretty gray is a half to two Texas stakes winners. Fiftyshadesofgold has been training forwardly with two strong works at Churchill. Her trainer Bret Calhoun wins with 25% of his shippers

MORE THAN BEAUTY (More Than Ready - Brown Eyed Beauty, by Miswaki) zipped 4 ½ F in :52 flat in he debut, beating Debutante entrant Deliver by more than five lengths. She's posted three consecutively faster breezes including a last out bullet. The Borel brothers team up here and trainer Cecil is 31% with two year olds.

SILVER VALLEY (Silver Train - Panorama Valley, by Peaks and Valleys) won her debut at Lone Star by 4 ¾ lengths. Her dam went 3-3 in her career, including two stakes as a juvenile.

MEDALBU (Medallist - Malibu Moment, by Malibu Moon) could be an interesting long-shot. She made up over nine lengths in her 4 ½ F debut. Her times weren't the greatest, but she owns the second highest speed figure in the field. Her sire Medallist produced last year's Debutante winner Blueeyesintherein.


TEARDROP is the top pick based upon sheer talent and class. She can't goof off with this field and hopefully gained some experience in her first start. When a trainer has two horses in the field, always pay attention to the less-notable stablemate. That would be DEL MAR HOLIDAY. She has more experience than Teardrop, although Rosie jumped off of her, Del Mar Holiday's speed figures show improvement. FIFTYSHADESOFGOLD has the highest Bris speed figure in this group and on paper, appears the fastest. She doesn't appear to be speed crazy and will be dangerous. Have to respect the Borel brothers. MORE THAN BEAUTY has been working very well. MEDALBU and SILVER VALLEY are long-shots to watch.




#2 SILVER VALLEY – long-shot pick

Friday, June 14, 2013

Willie B in the Willard L Proctor?

With the Triple Crown contests in the history books, the new crop of two year old colts are taking the first baby steps of their careers in the Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park. This year's winners may be the last in the race series, which began in 1953.

Some distinguished colts had their beginnings in this stakes race. In just the second edition of the WL Proctor, a colt named Swaps finished third. He would continue on to win the Kentucky Derby and be named Horse of the Year. One of the top sprinters and sires of his time, Fleet Nasrullah won in 1957. His offspring went on to produce King's Bishop, Ancient Title, Flying Paster and other top runners. Other victors of the WL Proctor top California sire Swiss Yodeler and Champion Sprinter Squirtle Squirt.

In 2011, Willard Proctor Memorial champ J P’s Gusto, was one of the better juveniles in California, winning not only the Willard Proctor, but also the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G-3), Best Pal (G-2) and Del Mar Futurity (G-1).

This year, nine promising colts will take their spot in the starting gate.

Willie B Awesome (Awesome Gambler - Cause I'm Tricky, by Nineeleven) appears to be the stronger of the two entrants from the Solis barn. He' is a full brother to Willa B Awesome, who was third in the Cinderella Stakes in 2011. Willa B continued on to win/place in 13 of 19 starts, including victories in the San Ysabel (G-3) and Santa Anita Oaks (G-1). Willie B Awesome encountered trouble in his first start, having to steady in traffic in the race won by Street Icon. Two weeks later Willie B came back at the same level. He broke inward from post two and was outrun early. He started making up ground on the front runners in the stretch and inherited the lead from Randio, who hit the rail and fell. Slightly green Willie B Awesome won by ½ length over Go First. Willie B Awesome showed speed figure improvement in his last two races and holds a second last bullet work.

His stablemate Time for a Hug (Time to Get Even - Action Girl, by Wild Rush) dueled the entire way and drew off to a 1 length win in his debut against state-bred maidens. There's no blacktype in his immediate family, but all three half sibs to race are winners. Time for a Hug's second dam Craftimae is a juvie stakes placed runner. WL Proctor entrant California Chrome strode nicely to get up for second and that won won next time out. Time for a Hug has recorded three consecutively faster works. Unfortunately his trainer Walther Solis is 0-26 with the maiden to stakes angle.

California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit - Love the Chase, by Not For Love) came from off of the pace to finish a narrowly beaten second in his debut going 4 ½ furlongs. That's a tough thing to do. Next time out, the good looking Chestnut was up dueling for the lead and proved best, pulling away to win by 2 ¾ lengths. His speed figures improved and he tossed a 5F bullet in his last work. He's the first foal produced by his dam. No blacktype in the first two generations, but his third dam is a MSW. Trainer Art Sherman is 21% with last out maidens winning stakes.

Street Icon (Street Boss - Legion of Merit, by Danzig) matched strides early with Geldautomat in their debut, yet never let that one by. Street Icon was green in the stretch bearing in slightly on Geldautomat. Street Icon finished a comfortable ¾ length in front of that rival. All four of Street Icon's half sibs to race are winners, but none own blacktype. Their unraced dam is a half to a SP runner and the second dam Ophidian is G3 placed. Trainer John Sadler is 21% with the maiden to stakes angle.

Street Icon's stablemate Kobe's Back (Flatter - Well, by Well Decorated) was the fourth expensive OBSMAR13 seller at $480K after working a furlong in :10.1. He's a half to G-3 winning sprinter Well Spelled. The pretty gray colt has a string of quick works. Sadler is 22% with first timers.

One More (Holy Bull - See Rock City, by Tapit) is the only filly in the race. It isn't a big deal this time of year, because both colts and fillies are on pretty even footing. In fact, similar to their human counterparts, young fillies are often more mature than the colts. That being said, only two fillies have won the WL Proctor, the last was in 1995 and the winner of the inaugural race was also a filly. It would be fitting to have another filly to close out the series. Despite the gray color of her sire and damsire, One More is a bay. Her entire female line back to her fifth dam are chestnuts. One More is the first foal borne by her dam, Rock City. That one is a half to a juvenile SW and a Juvie SP runner. Trainer Doug O'Neil is 13% with debut starters.

Solid Wager (Birdonthewire - G Ma, by Valid Wager) broke from the 1 post in his maiden claiming debut eight days ago. He hopped slightly at the start, and needed some time to get into gear. At one point he was 6 lengths behind the pace setters in this 5F race. Solid Wager cut the corner on the turn and wore them down, winning by 2 ¼ lengths in a strong :59 4/5. Trainer Peter Miller is 14% with the maiden to stakes winner angle and has won three of the last six editions of the WL Proctor.

Geldautomat (Fusaichi Pegasus - Sophie's Destiny, by Two Punch) was willing in his debut, but Street Icon refused to be headed. Geldautomat was slightly bothered by his rival coming in on him in the stretch, but to his credit, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus didn't give up. He was bested only ¾ lengths and held off the third place finisher by ½ length. Geldautomat is the first foal produced by his dam. Both his dam and second dam are unraced, although his dam Sophie's Destiny is a half sib to SW Grand Appointment and to two SP runners. His third dam Sophisticated Girl placed in the Oak Leaf (G-1) and she'd the dam of sire Doneraile Court and second dam of sire Souvenir Copy. This is also the family of MG1 winner Excellent Meeting. Trainer Kristen Mulhall wins non-graded stakes at 27% .

Go First (Kafwain - Go Ruby Go, by Rubiano) bore in on Willie Be Awesome at the start of their debut then drifted out slightly down the backstretch. Going four wide on the turn, Go First made up ground down the center of the stretch to get up for second, ½ length behind Willie B Awesome. Go First has recorded a couple of swift breezes and trainer Dean Pederson is 20% with second time runners.


Since 2000, seven winner sat second or third in the WL Proctor,before taking over in the stretch. One sat mid-pack (4th) while one ran them down from 8th place. No maiden has won, and all except two winners won/placed in their debut. Another interesting bit of trivia, only two winners were foaled in California, the rest were bred in either Kentucky or Florida.

That being said, the California horses look to be stronger than their Kentucky counterparts this year. California Chrome has experience running on and off of the pace, shows a speed figure increase and a last out bullet, all signs that he's a very live horse. Willie B Awesome had an excuse in his first and ran like a good one in his second. He isn't speed crazy either. Solid Wager is the only one with experience at 5F. His race was good, but he appears to be more of a grinder. Street Icon is a stubborn horse and refused to yield to Geldautomat. He should be respected. Go First recorded the highest late pace speed figure in the group. The extra distance should suit him and hopefully, he won't be as green.

#6 Willie B Awesome

#7 California Chrome

#8 Street Icon

#5- Go First

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Kiddie List


MAY 15 – 19, 2013

A month ago, this year’s crop of two year olds quietly made their arrival on the racing scene in early maiden races at Keeneland. As summer draws near, more tracks are carding races for the babies.

As I’ve done over the last two years, I’ll continue the Kiddie List as I seek out the best and brightest of this next generation. Over the last few years, I pointed out Dullahan, El Padrino, Take Charge Indy, Union Rags, Creative Cause, Drill, Dreaming of Julia, Beholder, Kauai Katie, Dry Summer, Renee's Titan, Power Broker, Honorable Dillon, Redwood Kitten, Emollient, Fortify and countless other runners before they hit the national radar. Many juveniles that were highlighted on the Kiddie List rewarded their backers with double digit wins.

The Kiddie List will cover the best workers and blue bloods from the New York, Kentucky, California and Florida tracks, plus Arlington, Fair Hill and Monmouth. If a particularly well bred baby from the database shows up at another track, I’ll include that one as well. Due to the enormous number of juveniles, some of these names may show up only once or twice. It’s highly suggested that you use a virtual stable, available through Equibase, DRF or Brisnet to follow the babies in whom you’re most interested.

We’ll kick off the Kiddie List in New York.


ASLAN (A.P. Indy - Satin Kiss, by Seeking the Gold) (C) 3F :39.16 (9/9) – Darley home bred colt is the second foal produced by his dam. His half sister Spellwork (by Hard Spun) raced in France and Dubai. Their dam won the UAE 1000 Guineas (8F) and UAE Oaks (9F). Aslan won’t be precocious and will do better with distance and maturity.

KINGOFGOLDSTREET (Street Cry (IRE) - In the Gold, by Golden Missile) (C) 3F :38.72 (5/9) – Live Oak Stud homebred colt is the fourth foal out of MGSW In The Gold. She also raced for Live Oak and won the Gazelle (G-1) at 9F. Expect Kingofgoldstreet to relish two turns.

BALDERDASH (Grand Slam - Them There Eyes, by Holy Bull) (C) 3F :39.45 (6/7) – first work for this pretty gray colt. He’s the first foal out of his MSW dam. She earned $289,300 in 24 starts as a turf miler in NY. She’s a half to the MSW sprinter/miler My Dinah. Balderdash’s pedigree is a mix of dirt/turf attributes, so he could go either way. He should handle sprints through two turns.

NIN PIN (Smarty Jones - Flag Pin, by Personal Flag) (C) 3F :49.46 (7/7) – He’s the second of his dam’s foals to make it to the track. She won 3 of 6 races, including the NY Oaks (8.5f). There’s no other blacktype in the immediate distaff family. Nin Pin’s half brother Cat Three Approach (by Catienus) was in the money 3 of 14 starts, winning his maiden after his sixth attempt over dirt.


AMERICA (A.P. Indy - Lacadena, by Fasliyev) (F) ($725K (RNA) KEESEP2012) 3F :39.82 (16/28) – first breeze for the Bobby Flay homebred. She’s the second foal out of her stakes placed dam. America’s half brother by Unbridled’s Song is 0-4. What makes America so valuable? Her third dam is the KY Oaks heroine and blue hen Blush With Pride, granddam of Belmont Stakes winning duo Rages to Riches and Jazil. America is most likely in the barn of Todd Pletcher and will be unveiled this summer.

HOWL (Arch - Holler, by Strong Hope) (C) 3F :38.68 (11/28) – Claiborne homebred is the first foal out of his dam. She won 1 of 4 starts and is a half to SW sprinter Cheery (by Distorted Humor) and SP Shrill also by Distorted Humor. Howl’s second dam is MGSW Yell, a winner from 7 – 8.5F. This is the female family of the SW sires Eastern Echo, Flatter and Roar. Howl’s fourth dam is the blue hen Glowing Tribute, dam of Kentucky Derby champ Sea Hero.

RADIANT (Sky Mesa - Luster, by Touch Gold) (F) 3F :39.82 (16/28) – Claiborne homebred is the first foal out of her SP dam. Luster won 2 of 8 starts sprinting, including once in the mud. She placed in the Dogwood Stakes. Radiant and Howl are descended from daughters of the blue hen Wild Applause. Radiant will likely be a precocious sprinter/miler.

ROUND ( Arch - Enth, by Seeking the Gold) (C) 3F :38.68 (11/28) – Another Claiborne homebred, Round is the second foal produced by his dam. His half brother Apex (by Dynaformer) has placed in 2 of 4 starts. As one would expect, Round has a strong distaff family filled with stakes winners. His dam won 1 of 4 starts, but she’s a half to two SW and a SP runner. Second dam Limit is a SW and the third dam Bound is a blue hen and grand-dam of the Champion Blame.

BLARP (War Front - Storm Tracer, by Pulpit) (C) 3F :39.14 (14/28) – This oddly named colt is a half brother to MGSW turf horse Newsdad (by Arch). Blarp may be a fairly precocious sprinter and prefer the lawn.

GOLDEN RUM (Medaglia d'Oro - Rum Charger, by Spectrum) (C) 3F 39.89 (26/28) - bred by Mr. & Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone, the breeders of Kentucky Derby heroine Genuine Risk, Golden Rum is a half to MGSW Winchester, a turf router who earned over $1 million dollars. Their dam is a MSW turf sprinter. Golden Rum will likely prefer running long over the turf.

MOSLER ( War Front - Gold Vault, by Arch) (C) ($1,050,000 KEESEPT2012) 3F :39.14 (14/28) – This is a million dollar half to MG1W Contested (by Ghostzapper), winner of the Test and Acorn Stakes. Their dam won 3 of 17 starts and is a half sister to the MGSW sprinter/sire Pomeroy. Mosler may be precocious and could head to the turf.

KING OF BAY ( Medaglia d'Oro - Queenofalldiamonds, by Kingmambo) (C) 3F :39.88G (23/28) – Live Oak Stud homebred is the second foal out of his dam to race. His half brother by Giant’s Causeway didn’t start until he was three, winning his maiden in his second attempt over the lawn. Queenofalldiamonds sold for over $2 million dollars at auction. She needed six starts to win her maiden. Although she tried dirt and turf, she wasn’t victorious until sprinting over Polytrack. Queenofalldiamonds is a half to SP Indy Scent (by A.P. Indy). King of Bay’s second dam is 1998 Champion Older Mare Escena. The offspring of Escena are under-achievers on the track. Often, talent will skip a generation in the female family. King of Bay may become a turf router and it’s doubtful that he’ll be precocious.

WEST COAST GIRL (Medaglia d'Oro - West Coast Swing, by Gone West) (F) ($725K FTSAUG2012) 3F :39.85 (21/28) – bred by WinStar Farm and owned by Live Oak Plantation. She’s the first foal out of her dam, a stakes winning sprinter. West Coast Girl’s third dam is the blue hen Classy N’ Smart, dam of Champions Smart Strike and Dance Smartly (dam of Canadian Champ Dancethruthedawn). West Coast Girl may be a mid-summer starter and improve with maturity.


GSW – Graded Stakes Winner

MGSW – Multiple Graded Stakes Winner

MG1SW – Multiple Grade One Stakes Winner

SP - Stakes Placed

G – breezed from the gate

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Large Hearts on the Triple Crown Trail

XfactorDoes the large heart factor play a role in the Kentucky Derby? Is it another useful tool for handicappers or just an interesting notion that, while entertaining, is a theory better suited to the breeding shed? What do horsemen mean when they say, “that horse has a lot of heart?”

Let's delve into the components behind these questions.

Unlike humans, a large heart in a Thoroughbred is a good thing. It gives the horse greater stamina and strength. This particularity is passed amongst Thoroughbred families. The large heart gene is also known as the X-Factor, because the gene is located on the x-chromosome. Therefore, a colt can only inherit an oversized heart through his dam, and a stallion can only pass on the gene to his daughters.

The only reliable measurement to determine if a horse has a large heart is to do an ECG of the dam/foal to see if they carry this mutation. The large heart has a 50/50 chance to be passed along to each foal. Therefore, one could have it, while the rest don't. It's a roll of the genetic dice. Other ways to determine (not as reliable) are to examine the pedigree for large-heart ancestors, winning traits of the family and some physical aspects.

Pedigree: X-Factor stallions pass the gene to their daughters, thus becoming good broodmare sires. Secretariat, perhaps one of the most famous stallions noted for his large heart, was noted as one of the greatest broodmare sires in modern history. Some mares are "Double copy" mares, receiving the gene through their sires and dams. For instance, Secretariat's daughter Weekend Surprise was a double copy mare, as she received the gene through her sire and damsire, Buckpasser.Weekend Surprise's dam Lassie Dear and her second dam Gay Missle (by Sir Gaylord) were also carriers. The large heart gene expressed itself in Weekend Surprise's sons A.P. Indy and Summer Squall. Additionally, Lassie Dear's daughter Charming Lassie (by Seattle Slew) passed along the x-factor gene to her son Lemon Drop Kid.
Weekend Surprise Pedigree Chart
A family's racing ability can also be a clue to whether a horse may have the X-Factor. For instance, if a mare who carries a copy (or double copy gene) has ten foals and all of them are winners, she is likely passing along a large heart gene. If only three or four of her ten foals win, she probably isn't passing the gene along.
Also, the X-factor gene can be recessive in a mare. Therefore, she may pass the gene to her babies, but it won't be expressed until her offspring have progeny of their own. That's one of the reasons we see talent skip a generation or two. This is how that comes about. A mare with few winners in her first two generations carrying a recessive heart gene is mated to a stallion with the large heart gene. Surprise - here's a stakes winner. It isn't always that simple, but it does explain why one runner out of ten bred from a mare will be a superstar while the rest languish in claiming races.
Physical Aspects: There is one unique physical characteristic found among horses with large hearts. That is small, curly ears.Secretariat and Zenyatta are noted for their curly ears. Not only is Zenyatta a super-mare, but she's also a double copy mare, receiving the gene from her sire Street Cry (whose entire distaff line is X-factor) and Vertigineux, who receives it from both her sire Kris S. and dam For the Flag.

Zenyattas son
Zenyatta's son
If Zenyatta passes along the X-Factor gene to her sons, they should become excellent runners and sires. Zenyatta's yearling colt resembles his dam and also has her curly ears. Unless Zenyatta's daughters receive the gene from their sire, it is likely that they won't emulate their dam on the racetrack, but they will pass the X-Factor along to their sons.

X-Factor & Handicapping: So how does the X-Factor work to the handicapper's advantage? Nothing is ever mentioned regarding large-hearts and handicapping because it would be impossible to include the info in the past performances. Not every good racehorse carries a large heart. Certain Thoroughbred families carry the large heart gene. Review the pedigrees and racing backgrounds of the contender's families. Also, look for a leaf-like “curly” appearance to the ears. A horse doesn't need to be a statuesque 17 hands high to carry the large heart. Physical size doesn't matter. War Admiral was a small horse, but he carried the double X factor from his sire and dam.
Kentucky Derby Contenders: That brings us to the Kentucky Derby. How many winners have carried the large heart? Reviewing the pedigree charts back to 1970, it seems that the the trend comes and goes. Following are the years that, according to their pedigree charts, horses with the X-Factor won the Kentucky Derby. Note that there is no more than three years between winners who may carry the X-Factor gene.

1973 – 1975 – yes          1992 - no
1976 – no                        1993 – 2000 - yes
1977 – 1981 – yes          2003 – no                
1982 – 1983 – no            2004 - yes
1984 – yes                      2005 – 2007 - no
1985 – 1986 – no            2008 – yes
1987 – yes                     
2009 - no
1988 – 1989 – no            2010 - yes
1990 – 1991 – yes
          2011 – 2012 – no
Keep in mind that heart size alone doesn't guarantee a stakes winner. A horses biomechanics - gait, stride length, conformation, power, health and training all play a part in their ability. However, if the large-hearted horse has these other factors in their favor, there's a strong chance that they'll be a tough customer in their races.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wood Memorial & Santa Anita Derby – Pedigree Handicapping

By the close of Saturday's racing in New York and California, we'll have a clearer picture of next month's Kentucky Derby field.


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In New York at Aqueduct, the battle of the V's will take place in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G-1). Verrazano and Vyjack have been unbeatable. Unless they deadheat at the finish line, one of these fine colts will head back to his stall with a slightly blemished record. The 1 1/8 mile Wood Memorial (G-1) offers 100 Derby Points to the victor – a win and you're in race.
 Eight other colts will face off against VERRAZANO and VYJACK
 In his first race of the season, NORMANDY INVASION closed with a last to first rush – but finished fifth once the dust had settled on the Risen Star. He just missed by a nose at 1 1/8 miles last year, so we know that he should handle the distance. He's been firing bullets at Palm Meadows and could be dangerous.
Poor ELNAAWI had the worst trip of all in the Gotham Stakes. He bashed into West Hills Giant at the start, was yanked over to the rail where he was caught tight, bumped again while having to steady, swung four wide around the far turn, and still managed to close for third place. The half brother to multiple Grade 1 winner To Honor And Serve gets a jockey switch, and hopefully, a better ride.
QUINZIEME MONARQUE (Rock Hard Ten - Quintela (GB), by Giant's Causeway) has the pedigree of a turf router and appears to be too slow for today's class level. He gets first time lasix, but he may need pyrotechnics strapped to his back to have an impact. Don't blame the horse. He's a late May foal and still developing, technically, he's still a two year old. Let's see him later in the year on the turf. 
Like many slower-developing colts, MR PALMER (Pulpit - In Truth, by Quiet American) is maturing into a nice three year old. We'll find out how nice after the Wood Memorial. He's won his first two starts of the year, including a minor stakes at 1 1/8 miles. His first three dams are unraced, however, this distaff line had produced some nice runners, including multiple Grade 1 winner and sire, Behrens, the hard-knocking Commentator, multiple stakes winner Cowboy Cal and Sunland Derby runner-up Show Some Magic. 
ALWAYS IN A TIZ (Tiznow - Calendar Girl, by Elusive Quality) made a huge three-wide move in the Southwest, but couldn't sustain his bid. He gets blinkers, but appears a cut below Grade 1 company.His dam is stakes-placed at 1 1/16 miles. Other than that, this immediate distaff line is unremarkable. 
GO GET THE BASIL (Andromeda's Hero - Images in Jade, by Jade Hunter) has been tearing it up in allowance/optional claiming company. His sire's claim to fame was a second place finish in the 2005 Belmont Stakes. All of Go Get the Basil's half siblings are winners and one is minor stakes placed. This is a modest female family filled with some minor stakes winners. Go Get the Basil has been working well and it's time to see if he belongs. 
Two recent maiden winners bookend the Wood Memorial field. CHRISANDTHECAPPER and FREEDOM CHILD won their last races by entire zip codes last time out, but appear up against it, class and speed figure wise.


Track bias: two races were held this week at 1 1/8 miles. Both were won by off the pace runners. However, this meet, 55% of the 9F races were won by early speed, with 27% going gate to wire. 
The two V's are an automatic include. VERRAZANO appears to be controlling speed, although may let Freedom Child and/or Chrisandthecapper set the pace. Either way, he has tractable speed and figures to get the jump on the rest of them. VYJACK showed a new dimension by sitting behind horses in the Gotham. His pedigree is borderline for 1 1/8 miles, but he's been outrunning the paper. ELNAAWI switches to a better jock and if the talented colt has recovered from his last punishing race, could upset the race. MR. PALMER is a fast-developing colt and owns the highest late pace speed figure in the field. NORMANDY INVASION is dangerous and shouldn't be left off of the ticket. He may need a pace to run at. ALWAYS IN A TIZ's trainer is 0-9 in graded stakes this year and 11% with the blinkers on angle.
#6 MR. PALMER – longshot pick


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The Santa Anita Derby (G-1) field was dealt a blow when San Felipe Stakes winner HEAR THE GHOST was scatched from the race and is now off of the Kentucky Derby trail.
In the San Felipe, FLASHBACK and GOLDENCENTS tangled in a speed duel. Flashback received an immediate jockey change and I expect Kevin Krigger's ears are still ringing from trainer Doug O'Neil's comments.
One of the horses who benefited from the speedster's suicidal match race in the San Felipe was TIZ A MINISTER. He owns a speed over stamina pedigree which is borderline for 1 1/8 miles. However, his off of the pace running style should enable him to handle the distance. 
SUPER NINETY NINE (Pulpit - Exogenetic, by Unbridled's Song) had two back-to-back spectacular victories in an allowance and the Southwest Stakes. Then bombed in the Rebel Stakes as the favorite. He enters with the usual fast Baffert works and owns a pedigree suited to 1 1/8 miles. Does he have a couple more good races left in him or has he peaked? 
POWER BROKER (Pulpit - Shop Again, by Wild Again) hasn't faced competition since his rough fifth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Only one horse has won the Santa Anita Derby in his three year old debut – and that was back in the 1930's. 
According to his form, DIRTY SWAG is better suited to Polytrack and might want to give the turf a shot – either that, or a step down in competition. 
There's always a few in every crowd. I'm talking about LOM's (Last Out Maiden winners). Either the trainers are doing the racing secretary a favor for betting purposes, or someone is having hallucinations brought on by Derby fever. SUMMER EXCLUSIVE will attempt to jump from a maiden sprint race to 1 1/8 miles. STORM FIGHTER will jump from state-bred company into a Grade 1.


Track bias: Four races have been run at 1 1/8 miles over the main track. Two were won by a front runner, while two were pace pressers/mid-pack runners. 
Neither Flashback or Goldencents has the best pedigree to get 1 1/8 miles. Both prefer to be forwardly placed. Summer Exclusive has :21 speed, and may foil the speed duel. Either way, there's a lot of speed in here with plenty of pedigrees suspect for the distance. Tiz A Minister recorded the highest late pace speed figure in the field. A fast pace will benefit him and he'll come rolling late. Power Broker has the pedigree to handle 1 1/8 miles. He may not have the conditioning to win, but he has the class to finish in the money. Super Ninety Nine likes to be near the front and has the pedigree to go long. I'm willing to draw a line through his last. 
#4 Tiz A Minister
#1 Flashback
#3 Power Broker
#6 Super Ninety Nine – longshot pick

Friday, March 29, 2013

Derby Day in Florida & Louisiana


FLDerbyTrophyThe roster of Florida Derby (G-1) winners who made an impact on the Triple Crown races reads like a who’s who of racing. In the last twelve years, seven horses who hit the board in the Florida Derby won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes.

The Florida Derby naturally figures prominently on the Kentucky Derby trail. This year takes on new significance with the implementation of Derby Points. In previous Derby preps, the winners earned 50 points. With only 36 days before the run for the roses, the last remaining prep races up the ante with the winner scoring 100 points. The top three threats, ITSMYLUCKYDAY, ORB and SHANGHAI BOBBY need only to finish in the money to be assured of a trip to Kentucky in May. But the Florida Derby isn't all about them. There are a few new shooters that may have a say in the outcome of the race.

There's a lot of buzz surrounding PICK OF THE LITTER ( Kitten's Joy - Eagle Sound, by Fusaichi Pegasus). The last time out maiden winner blew the doors off of an off the turf 1 1/8 mile race, devastating his three competitors by 7 ½ lengths in a very sharp 1:49.35. The Dale Romans trainee followed up with two post race bullet works. Looking at Pick of the Litter's pedigree one would expect that he'd prefer turf to dirt. However, Kitten's Joy has sired eight dirt winners and Pick of the Litter's dam and half brother were both dirt sprinters.

INDY'S ILLUSION (A.P. Indy- Miss Illusion, by Mr. Prospector) has raced three times at 1 1/8 miles, improving his position each time. He was recently second by a neck after traveling three wide. Indy's Illusion has a classy pedigree. His dam is an unraced half sister to the stakes winning sprinter Apprehender (by Posse) Indy's Illusion's second dam is the multiple G1 winner Missys Mirage, a winner from 6 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. She beat the well-bred multiple G-1 winner Versailles Treaty three times. Missys Mirage's half sister half sister Classy Mirage bore Hopeful Stakes winner Dublin.

FRAC DADDY (Scat Daddy - Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away)was one-paced in the Holy Bull Stakes in his first start of the season. He's picked it up in his morning training and has posted two consecutive bullet works. The colt has plenty of stamina in his distaff line, as his second dam Power Play won the Delaware Handicap at 1 ¼ miles. Read his pedigree profile here.

PONTIFF (Giant's Causeway - Preach, by Mr. Prospector) is a well-bred maiden who was second by a neck going 1 1/8 miles over a sloppy track last time out. A produced of careful Claiborne Farms breeding, Pontiff is a half brother to the recently deceased international sire Pulpit. Nine other half siblings have raced with only two of them earning blacktype. His dam and second dam are multiple graded stakes winners. Other members of this distaff family include Champion Johannesburg and his dam Champion Juvenile Minardi, plus popular sire Tale of the Cat and multiple stakes winner Fed Biz. Pontiff's works haven’t been spectacular and he's giving away experience in the Florida Derby.

MERIT MAN (With Distinction - Precise Strike, by Precise End) won the Spectacular Bid Stakes in January, but was a non-threatening fourth in the Hutcheson after being steadied. The Robert Hess, Jr. trainee's pedigree is light on stamina. His sire was a sprinter with moderate ability at the G-3 level. He won at a mile and was beaten 1/2 a length at 1 1/8 miles in an allowance race. Merit Man's dam was a sprinter. She won between 5 1/2F - 7F, but could do no better than third when stretched out to 1 mile 70 yards in 3 attempts. Damsire Precise End won at 1 1/6 miles and shorter. He has only two stakes winners as a broodmare sire. Neither have won past a mile. Adding more speed to the pedigree is the 2nd damsire Phone Trick.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME (Run Away and Hide - Sweet Awakening, by Street Cry (IRE)) experiments on dirt for the first time in his career. He made his first start of the season 21 days ago in a turf mile race at Tampa, where he was nipped by a nose at the wire. His sire was a very precocious speedball who won all three starts before becoming injured. So far, his offspring are doing well as sprinters, but have failed to win past a mile. Are You Kidding Me carries some stamina on his distaff side. His dam failed to win in two starts. She's a half sister to Illinois Derby (G-2) victor Recapturetheglory. The second dam Cold Awakening was stakes placed as a juvenile. She's a half sister to the popular stakes veteran Chilly Rooster. Are You Kidding Me posted two post-race breezes at Payson Park.

NARVAEZ (Holy Bull - Miss Lulu, by Unbridled) was up in time to dead heat in a 7 ½ furlong allowance race 21 days ago. Both his sire and damsire won their respective Florida Derbies and his damsire went on to capture the Kentucky Derby, so there's no shortage of stamina in Narvaez's pedigree. There's little blacktype in the first two generation's of his female family, although his dam is a half sister to a stakes placed runner and his second dam Miss Margi won the Oaklawn Breeders' Cup Handicap.



69% of the pace setters/pressers have won at 1 1/8 miles this meet. Outside posts are a distinct disadvantage as there are literally six steps to the first turn.

MERIT MAN takes the blinkers off, perhaps in an effort to get him to relax. He does his best running on the front end and his outside post guarantees that he'll have to be used early to grab that lead. His stamina challenged pedigree suggests that he'll be running out of steam around the second turn. He may also have to contend with SHANGHAI BOBBY on the front end with ITSMYLUCKYDAY, INDY'S ILLUSION and FRAC DADDY chasing in hot pursuit. ORB and ARE YOU KIDDING ME will do their best running late.

#6 ORB



#7 INDY'S ILLUSION – longshot pick

Louisiana Derby

Louisiana Derby trophyIn the last three years, three colts who hit the board in the Louisiana Derby (G-1) also had a say in the outcome of the Triple Crown races. In 2010, Drosselmeyer was third in Louisiana’s premiere event and later won the Belmont Stakes. In 2011, the second and third place finishers in Louisiana also placed second and third in the Kentucky Derby.

This year, five colts who exited the Risen Star face one-another and nine new faces in the Louisiana Derby. Like the Florida Derby, the Louisiana Derby is worth 100 points to the winner, granting a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

CODE WEST and PALACE MALICE finished second and third in the Risen Star just missing in a blanket finish. Both have been training well and have the pedigrees to handle 1 1/8 miles.

GOLDEN SOUL, PROUD STRIKE and MYLUTE all tired after chasing the pace in the Risen Star. Of the three, Golden Soul have been working the best. Mylute may improve in his second start off of a layoff.

REVOLUTIONARY (War Pass - Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy) is getting a ton of attention after his courageous neck win in the Withers Stakes (G-3) in January. The well-bred colt has a speed over stamina pedigree. His works are average and trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race twice in the last six years. Read his Revolutionary's in-depth pedigree profile here.

Stablemates Departing and Sunbean scratched out of the Risen Star to race in the Texas Heritage Stakes and Gentilly Stakes.

DEPARTING (War Front - Leave, by Pulpit) is undefeated in three starts. Departing's distaff family is filled with Claiborne-bred stakes winners. His unraced dam is a full sister to the stakes winner Laity. She's a half sister to multiple G-3 winner Trip and also a half sister to the dam of multiple G-1 winning sprinter Zensational. Departing fired a very quick bullet in his last breeze.

SUNBEAN (Brahms - X Strawdnair, by Malagra) is a nose away from being undefeated in four starts. He takes a huge class jump from state-bred ranks into graded stakes company. Five of six of Sunbean's half siblings are Louisiana stakes veterans, including Mean Butterbean, Miss Bean Wah, Brother Bean, Good Human Bean, and Beanwah'smachine.

TITLETOWN FIVE (Tiznow - D' Wildcat Speed, by Forest Wildcat) jumps from 6F to 1 1/8 miles and takes a huge step up in company. He has a stamina over speed pedigree. Titletown Five's dam D' Wildcat Speed was a stakes winner in Puerto Rico and his second dam Velvet Panther was a Champion mare in Puerto Rico. D' Wildcat Speed is a half sister to the Calder stakes placed runners D' Broken Speed and D'Court Speed. Titletown Five has been breezing has been breezing well at Oaklawn.

Six colts are coming into the race at 20-1 odds or higher. The two best appear to be Ground Transport and Brazilian Court.

GROUND TRANSPORT (Big Brown - Extry, by Broad Brush) has won his last two races at the Fairgrounds and owns the highest late pace speed figure. His dam has yet to produce a blacktype runner, but she is a half sister to two Grade/Group 1 winners, the popular top turf mare Fire The Groom (dam of Group 1 winner and sire Stravinsky) and the English Group 1 sprinter Dowsing. Ground Transport has fired three consecutive bullets since his last win.

BRAZILIAN COURT (Harlan's Holiday - Devotedness, by Anet) has been stuck in maiden claiming races for much of his career, but suddenly turned the corner when he freaked in a 1 mile race, finishing in a different realm than his competition, over 19 lengths in front in a very sharp 1:36.83. He returned with a very strong second place finish, beaten ½ a length in the OBS Championship Stakes, a race his half brother Devoted Wildcat won last year. Brazilian Court's unraced dam is a half sister to the multiple stakes winner Join Effort. His damsire Anet was a multiple graded stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles.


Only three races have been held at 1 1/8 miles this meet. Two were won by pace setters, while the third was won by a closer. All broke from posts 4 – 7.

In a full field of 14 horses, anything and everything can happen. The best horse may receive the worst trip. This race will be a good lesson for those horses entering the Kentucky Derby. Titletown Five may be used early from his outside post to grab the lead. Code West and Proud Strike might be right there with him, along with Departing. Revolutionary will make his best run from the back of the pack and may wind up going wide. Sunbean can settle and come with a late run and Palace Malice may do the same. The last two editions of the Louisiana Derby were won by longshots. Let's go with a price for the win.

#7 Departing

#3 Revolutionary

#6 Sunbean

#13 Ground Transport – longshot pick

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spiral to the Kentucky Derby

Check out the analysis and selections for the Sunland Derby at ThoroFan's Weekend Handicapper's Corner 

The Spiral Stakes (also run as the Jim Beam Stakes from 1982 – 2001) has sent two colts to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle. The race has also produced two Preakness heroes and a couple of Classic runner-ups.
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A full field of twelve colts will scramble 1 1/8 miles over the Turfway Park Polytrack for a chance to win 50 points in the Kentucky Derby points system. Second place is worth 20 points, 10 points for third and 5 points for fourth place.

Here's where pedigree handicapping comes in handy. 1 1/8 miles separates the middle-distance/classically bred horses from the sprinter/milers. Also, certain sires are noted for getting runners over Poly.

Below are the horses who should handle poly and 1 1/8 miles:

BALANCE THE BOOKS (Lemon Drop Kid - Kreisleriana, by Seeking the Gold) by a Champion Older Horse out of a stakes mare by the sire of four Breeders' Cup winners, Balance The Books has the pedigree to handle 1 ¼ miles. He hasn't tried Poly, but his sire is an above average producer of poly runners. Of concern is the lack of stamina works and the tough spot to come back off of a layoff.

CHANNEL ISLE (English Channel - Dandanna (IRE), by Linamix (FR)) placed behind Taken by the Storm twice as a two year old. His sire is an excellent producer of turf and Poly runners and Channel Isle is a winner at 1 1/8 miles. Trainer Wayne Lukas has revived his career this year with wins in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Sprint, Lecomte Stakes and one-two finishes in the Rebel.

UNCAPTURED (Lion Heart - Captivating, by Arch) the only black mark on this colt's record is an off the board finish in the Gray Stakes after encountering racing trouble. He's a winner over Poly and he has the pedigree to handle classic distances. Like Balance The Books, Uncaptured is making his three year old debut in the Spiral. Unlike that rival, Uncaptured has been prepared with a string of stamina works.

FEAR THE KITTEN (Kitten's Joy - Dynarhythm, by Dynaformer) has strong Spiral implications. Kitten's Joy sired 2010 Spiral winner Dean's Kitten and Dynaformer produced 2002 Spiral winner Perfect Drift. Trainer Mike Maker trained Dean's Kitten and 2006 Spiral winner With a City. Fear the Kitten is making his third start off of a layoff, has improving BRIS speed figures and owns a second to last bullet work. Fear him.

FOR GREATER GLORY (Afleet Alex - Lady's Touch, by Touch Gold) found trouble in the stretch of the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, but was right there at the finish. His polytrack pedigree is average and he is likely a better dirt horse. On the plus side, there's no shortage of stamina in his pedigree. His sire won the Kentucky Derby/Preakness; his damsire won the Belmont Stakes and second damsire is the legendary Secretariat. For Greater Glory's unraced dam is a ¾ sister to Ashland Stakes (G-1) winner Well Chosen (by Deputy Minister). That one is the dam of two-time Sword Dancer (G-1) hero Telling.

GENERAL ELECTION (Harlan's Holiday - Menekineko, by Kingmambo) won the John Battaglia Memorial after going eight wide on the turn at Turfway in his last race. With the Classic/Stout Chef-de-race Kingmambo as his damsire and three-time Champ Spectacular Bid as his second damsire, General Election should have no difficulty navigating 1 1/8 miles. General Election is a half brother to Breeders' Cup Mile winner Ready's Echo (by More Than Ready).

BLACK ONYX (Rock Hard Ten - Kalahari Cat, by Cape Town) showed instant improvement when switched to the grass in his last start. Not surprising, since his sire's progeny are best over turf and Poly. Rock Hard Ten spent his racing career on the dirt and won the Santa Anita Handicap (G-1), but as a son of Kris S. his turf genes are showing. Black Onyx's damsire Cape Town won the Florida Derby. As a damsire, he's represented by only one stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles, Louisiana Derby surprise Pants on Fire.

GIANT FINISH (Frost Giant - Apocalyptic, by Hickman Creek) made all of the pace in the John Battaglia Memorial to just miss the win by ½ length to General Election. The colt was shipping, trying a new distance and surface for the first time. His young sire has only 18 starters, but 13 of them have won, including two stakes winners. His sire Giant's Causeway gave us 2009 Spiral winner Hold Me Back. Giant Finish's dam is a half sister to the dam of multiple G-1 sprinter Crafty C.T.

TAKEN BY THE STORM (Stormy Atlantic - Paint Brush, by Broad Brush) is a winner over Polytrack. He has the bloodlines of Derby/Preakness runner-up Broad Brush, plus Classic heros Unbridled and Seattle Slew as his second and third damsires. There is little blacktype in his immediate female family, however, Taken by the Storm's third dam is a full sister to the dam of Lemon Drop Kid and she's a half to the dams of A.P. Indy and Summer Squall. Taken by the Storm breezed a bullet in his last work and won an optional claiming race over the turf in his last start.

MAC THE MAN ( El Corredor - Marchmont, by Mountain Cat) has dominated the prep races at Turfway Park by a combined 14 ½ lengths. He's a half to Charlies Quest (by Quest), who placed in a 1 ½ mile stakes race. Mac the Man has shown improving BRIS speed figures in every start. He may try to gallop them into submission, but lone speed doesn't fare well in the Spiral.

The following horses are borderline for 1 1/8 miles or may not handle Polytrack.

MY NAME IS MICHAEL (Macho Uno - Graciously Soft, by Vindication) is a stakes winner over Poly. He closed quickly to finish third in the Sam Davis stakes, his first start of the season. The colt missed almost a month of training due to illness and his pedigree is light on stamina. His damsire's daughters are just starting to bear offspring. Vindication has one other stakes winner, Sunland Derby entrant Shaken It Up. My Name Is Michael's dam is a half sister to the multiple Grade 1 router Spoken Fur and to Grade 1 turf sprinter Unbridled's Note.

CAPO BASTONE (Street Boss - Fight to Love, by Fit to Fight) won his maiden over the DelMar Pol, but the colt appears distance challenged. His second crop sire never raced beyond 7 furlongs and set a new track record for 6 furlongs. So far, his offspring have yet to win beyond 1 1/16 miles in the US. Capo Bastone's dam and half siblings won at 1 1/6 miles, but not beyond. A half sister placed at 1 1/8 miles. Fit to Fight,  Capo Bastone's damsire, won from a mile to 1 1/2 miles, including victories in the Met Mile, Suburban and Brooklyn, plus the Jerome and Stuyvesant.  No problem with stamina there....except that as a broodmare sire, his offspring appear more stamina oriented. Only four have won a stakes at 1 1/8 miles and none beyond that distance. Capo Bastone barely held on to win his three year old debut at 1 1/6 miles in a slow 1:48 at Gulfstream. He should benefit greatly from the race.


Track bias: In the last six years, three press pacers, two stalkers and one mid-pack runner won the Spiral. Frontrunners, even lone speed, haven't fared well. Only one pace setter has finished in the money in the last six editions of the Spiral.

Four colts like to be on or pressing the pace. Mack the Man, Uncaptured, Giant Finish and For Greater Glory. Uncaptured has an almost perfect race record and it would be a masterful training job by Mark Casse to ship in and win a 1 1/8 mile stakes race in his first race off of a 119 day layoff. At M/L odds of 3-1 I'll pass for the win, but the colt might finish in the money. Balance The Books is entering off of a 140 day layoff. Same goes for him. Could Capo Bastone advance over the Poly? Possible, but there are still distance considerations. Pletcher has had a Spiral entrant in almost every edition of the race. He's won twice since 2001.

There are some intriguing longshots in the race. Fear The Kitten has Spiral connections, is making his third start off of a layoff and owns a sharp bullet work two back. His speed figures appear a little slow, but that was over dirt. He should get a boost on Poly. Another horse who should show improvement with a switch to poly is Channel Isle. The colt was three wide and improve his position in the Southwest Stakes and he's a winner at 1 1/8 miles. If he's kept a little closer to the pace we could be looking at a winner. General Election is co-owner of the highest late pace speed figure. He flew eight wide yet won his last race and he should love the extra real estate.

#8 General Election
#4 Fear The Kitten
#3 Uncaptured
#2 Channel Isle – longshot pick

Friday, March 8, 2013

San Felipe: Flashback vs. Goldencents


Tampa Bay Derby Analysis & Selections here.

Since 2000 the San Felipe Stakes (G-2) has produced two Kentucky Derby winners, a Belmont Stakes winner and two colts who have placed in the Derby and Belmont.

This year Flashback and Goldencents headline a weak San Felipe Stakes (G-2). The 1 1/16 mile contest attracted eight colts and it is worth 50 Derby points to the winner.


FlashbackOne of two entries by trainer Bob Baffert, FLASHBACK (Tapit - Rhumb Line, by Mr. Greeley) flashed his heels to his rivals in the Robert B. Lewis (G-2) in his last start. The pretty gray colt has fired two bullet works and owns the second highest late-pace figure in the field. Read his pedigree analysis.


CarvingFlashback's stablemate CARVING (Any Given Saturday - In Seconds, by Giant's Causeway) gets a switch to jockey Bejarano, shortens up in distance and gets back to the dirt. Despite the changes, the son of Any Given Saturday appears to be a cut below graded stakes competition. Carving's dam did her best work over the turf and his sire has produced some turf stakes winners. Perhaps a switch to the lawn would better suit him.


GoldencentsSham Stakes hero GOLDENCENTS proved that he wasn't a one dimensional speed ball when he sat a length behind the front runner in the Sham. The son of first crop sire Into Mischief has no difficulty stretching his speed around two turns. The O'Neil trainee couldn't be working any better. He's fired seven consecutive bullet works since December. Read his pedigree analysis.


Hear the GhostIn his second start, HEAR THE GHOST (Ghostzapper - Rehear, by Coronado's Quest) made up four lengths in the stretch of the San Pedro Stakes to finish second, beaten only 1 ½ lengths. By a Horse of the Year out of a daughter of a Travers Stakes winner, Hear the Ghost will appreciate the extra real estate. He's a half-brother to Spinaway (G-1) heroine Mani Bhavan (by Storm Boot) and stakes placed Datt Echo (by Stormy Atlantic). Hear the Ghost gets a jockey switch from JJ Hernandez to Cory Nakatani. He and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer are 0-5 together.


Tiz a MinisterTIZ A MINISTER (Ministers Wild Cat - Tiz a Mistress, by Cee's Tizzy) has been competing at the state-bred level for most of his life. He has finished in the money in three open company races, but takes a big step up here. Trained by Paul Aguirre, the colt most recently won the one mile California Breeders Champion Stakes over Omega Star. Tiz a Minister should handle the extra distance of the San Felipe, but may not want to go much farther.


Omega StarOMEGA STAR (Candy Ride (ARG) - Pride of Pegasus, by Fusaichi Pegasus) lead briefly in the stretch of the California Breeders Champion Stakes, but he couldn't hold off the challenge of the more experienced Tiz a Minster. The John Shirreffs trainee is the first foal produced by his dam. His second dam Alpride was a highweight filly in Italy and was victorious in the Yellow Ribbon Invitational and Beverly Hills Handicap, both Grade 1 events over the lawn. Omega Star has been working well and could show improvement in his third start off of a layoff.


Salutos AmigosSALUTOS AMIGOS (Salute the Sarge - Sarasota (ARG), by Luhuk) is a last time out maiden winner. He dueled the whole way to prevail by 1 ¾ lengths, getting 6F in a sharp 1:08.56. Salutos Amigos is bred for speed. His sire never won a stakes past 6 ½ furlongs and his dam was an Argentinian Group 1 sprinter.


In his debut, KOCHEES (Lion Heart - Costume Girl, by Maria's Mon) was a longshot maiden winner over the downhill turf course. Next time out, the Michael Pender trainee went four wide early but held his place, although he was beaten 6 ½ lengths by Southwest Stakes winner Super Ninety Nine. Kochees owns a ton of classic stamina. His sire was second in the Kentucky Derby, damsire Maria's Mon produced two Kentucky Derby winners and his second dam is Classic/Solid Chef-de-race Nijinsky. Kochees dam is stakes placed and his third dam was a Champion Juvenile Filly in France. Kochees adds blinkers and has worked very well for his stakes debut.


Track bias: Early/pace pressing speed accounts for 66% of the wins at Santa Anita in 1 1/16 mile races.

Salutos Amigos owns :21 early speed. Both Flashback and Goldencents are able to sit off of the pace. It's hard to separate the two colts, however, Flashback owns higher late pace figures and has the benefit of a more recent race. If one of the colts decides to speed things up and the pace gets too hot, Tiz A Minister, Hear the Ghost or Kochees could score.




#6 TIZ A MINISTER – longshot pick

Friday, March 1, 2013

Gotham Stakes Analysis & Selections

GothamA trend is starting to appear. A Gotham Stakes (G-2) winner has won or placed in a Triple Crown race every eleven years.

In between however, the Classic prospects are slim pickings. In 2011 Stay Thirsty won the Gotham and was second by a narrow margin in the Belmont Stakes. In 2000 Red Bullet won the Gotham and went on to win a Classic Race, when he spoiled Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus’ Triple Crown bid in the Preakness. Eleven years earlier, Easy Goer also pulled a Gotham/Belmont Stakes double.

With the new Kentucky Derby points system, perhaps the eleven year cycle will be broken. This year's Gotham field doesn't appear as strong as the Fountain of Youth or Risen Star.

Kiaran McLaughlin has entered three well-bred colts, all of whom are jumping into stakes competition after maiden wins. The colt with the most experience is TRANSPARENT ( Bernardini - Habiboo, by Unbridled's Song). He needed five rehearsals for the light bulb to go on, and Transparent won his maiden decisively in his sixth start. He powered home a 5 ¾ length winner traveling 1 mile 70 yards at Aqueduct. Transparent has the pedigree to handle 1 ¼ miles. His young Horse of the Year sire has already produced winners at 1 ¼ miles and his son Stay Thirsty won the Gotham and was second in the Belmont Stakes. Transparent's dam is a multiple graded stakes placed runner. She's also a half sister to the Grade 1 winning sprinter Street Boss (By Street Sense).

ElnaawiPossibly the most well bred colt in the field is ELNAAWI ( Street Sense - Pilfer, by Deputy Minister). The half brother to multiple Grade 1 winner To Honor And Serve splashed his way to a four length victory in his second start. During an eventful race, Elnaawi bumped at the start, raced three wide while pressing the pace and drew off to a four length victory going a mile.

McLaughlin's third entry is NOW AND THEN (Tiznow - Holiday Runner, by Meadowlake). He galloped to a 1 ¼ length victory over Champion Boy in his only start. Now And Again is a half brother to multiple Grade 1 heroine Seventh Street, winner of the Apple Blossom and Go For Wand handicaps. He's also a half brother to stakes placed Reynaldothewizard and American Story. Their dam beat the boys in the three Chimneys Juvenile Stakes at Churchill and also won the Fashion Stakes, both sprints.

OveranalyzeA lot of attention will be paid to OVERANALYZE (Dixie Union - Unacloud, by Unaccounted For). The Pletcher trainee is making his first start since a gritty nose decision in last year's Remsen Stakes. Read his pedigree profile.

Vyjack_Jerome_StakesVYJACK (Into Mischief - Life Happened, by Stravinsky) battled from start to finish in a game effort in the Jerome Stakes (G-2) prevailing by a head over second place finisher Siete de Oros despite bumping through the stretch with that rival. It was three lengths back to Amerigo Vespucci. The son of Into Mischief is undefeated in three starts. Read his pedigree profile.

ESCAPEFROMREALITY (Read the Footnotes - Queen of the City, by Medaglia d'Oro) was on the losing end of a neck photo finish in his last two starts. Unlike the above-mentioned colts, Escapefromreality hails from a modest distaff family. His second, third and fourth dams all own blacktype and their offspring are mainly tough allowance/claiming class runners. Escapefromreality has improving BRIS speed figures and he's been working strongly for the race.

AMERIGO VESPUCCI (Henrythenavigator - Senza Paura, by Fly Till Dawn) was four wide around the second turn and ran evenly for fourth place in the Withers. He appears to be an average dirt runner and slightly a cut below the top of this group. Amerigo Vespucci's pedigree strongly leans towards turf. His second crop sire was a multiple Group-1 winner in England and Ireland and was runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic when it was held over Polytrack. Amerigo Vespucci's dam won her maiden sprinting on dirt, but the remainder of her victories, including a stakes win and Grade 2 placing, came over the lawn. His damsire was a long-winded multiple G-1 turf router.

Siete de orosSIETE DE OROS (A. P. Warrior - Crafty Sarah, by Crafty Friend) tired to finish third, two lengths behind the winner in the Withers. Despite stamina oriented bloodlines, his sire failed to win past 1 1/6 miles. Siete de Oros' dam was a veteran of 26starts at the claiming level, winning between 6F and 1 1/16 miles. Siete de Oros is the first American stakes winner in his distaff line in two generations and appears to be outrunning his pedigree.

CHAMPION BOY (Big Brown - My Amandari, by El Prado (IRE)) was five wide around the turn and into the stretch of the Withers Stakes. The maiden has been beaten by over nine lengths on the dirt. The pretty gray colt has a pedigree better suited to the turf. His dam was an allowance level miler over the lawn. His second dam is a Grade 3 winner, but that's it for class in the immediate female family.

OrePassORE PASS (War Pass - Wisconsin Lady, by Stephen Got Even) ships in from Laurel after out-classing his rivals in the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes. He has a speed over stamina pedigree. His dam made 11 starts at the allowance level, finishing in the money in four tries. She's a full sister to Time To Get Even, a Grade 3 winning sprinter. A half sister produced a stakes placed runner, so there's some modest ability in the family. Ore Pass posted a bullet in his first breeze after his victory, so the colt could step up here.

SKY CAPTAIN (Sky Mesa - Anchors Away, by Smarty Jones) was second in an 1 1/8 mile allowance race behind Cerro in his last start. It was a good effort and he should appreciate the cut back in distance. Sky Captain is the first foal produced by his unraced dam. She's a half sister to the classy Eight Belles who was second to Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby. A half brother Escape Route, is multiple stakes placed. Sky Captain's second and third dams are stakes winners and his fourth dam Straight Deal is a Champion Handicap Mare and blue hen.

WestHillsGiantWEST HILLS GIANT (Frost Giant - Outtawesthills, by Take Me Out) won a couple of state-bred races last year and got up for third in his first start of the season. He adds blinkers for the Gotham. The Chestnut colt is by the second crop sire sensation Frost Giant, whose breaking all sorts of state-bred sire records in New York and is currently #17 on the national second crop sire list. His offspring should improve with maturity. West Hills Giant is the first blacktype runner in three generations of his distaff family. He's already won at 1 1/6 miles and has been working well.


Track Bias: 38% of the early speed wins on the inside track at Aqueduct. All except three runners have and early pace-pressing running style.

The undefeated Jerome Stakes winner Vyjack has proved his tenacity and maybe this will be his break-through win. Pletcher Derby hopefuls have finished second in their three year old debuts. Overanalyze wants to go longer, but let's tag him for the #2 spot. Escapefromreality has improving speed figures and a strong work pattern. He also owns the highest current late pace figure. I'd like to see Elnaawi on dry dirt first, either that or pray for rain. He too has improving figures and has one of the classiest pedigrees in the field. His stablemate Now And Again is also well bred. McLaughlin is 17% with the maiden to stakes angle. West Hills Giant is an intriguing longshot. His first race off of a layoff wasn't bad and he's bred to go longer. He adds blinkers and his post-race work was pretty good.

#7 Vyjack

#11 Overanalyze

#3 Escapefromreality

#10 West Hills Giant – longshot pick