Friday, January 25, 2013

Holy Bull: Shanghai Bobby vs. the rest

History is against Shanghai Bobby winning the Holy Bull. Read why here.

In Florida, a select group of ten colts take their first major step on the Triple Crown Trail in Sunday’s Holy Bull Stakes (G-3). The one mile contest is the highly anticipated three year old debut of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Champ SHANGHAI BOBBY. The speedy colt has raced on or near the lead in every start, and was all out to hold off He's Had Enough in the BC Juvenile. The Holy Bull contains plenty of early and pace pressing speed to test the Two Year Old Champ's mettle. Read his pedigree profile here.

One of the quickest colts in the Holy Bull field is BERN IDENTITY. The Sanford Stakes (G-2) winner was reeling in Goldencents in the Delta Jackpot (G-3) but ran out of real estate after being blocked in the stretch. He hasn't raced since November, but the son of Bernstein is firing bullets like a machine gun. Additionally, Bern Identity will sit wherever his jockey places him. Read his pedigree profile here.

FRAC DADDY (Scat Daddy - Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away) is a neck away from being a Grade 2 stakes winner. Racing 4 wide, the McPeek trainee pressed the pace and fought tenaciously down the stretch, in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, only to miss by a neck to the more experienced and undefeated Uncaptured. Frac Daddy should be at his best around two turns. His sire has produced stakes winners up to 1 1/8 miles over dirt and 1 ¼ miles on the lawn. Frac Daddy's damsire is three time HOY Skip Away. The colt has plenty of stamina in his distaff line, as his second dam Power Play won the Delaware Handicap at 1 ¼ miles. Frac Daddy has been training regularly at Gulfstream since December. Read his pedigree profile here.

Exiting the same race, DEWEY SQUARE (Bernardini - Somethinaboutbetty, by Forestry) was also wide in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and made up ground to place third, 1 ½ lengths behind the winner. Dewey Square carries some class in his distaff line. His dam is a multiple stakes veteran who won up to 1 1/16 miles and she's the best foal produced by her dam. The son of Bernardini has been training strongly at Gulfstream for Eclipse Award Trainer Dale Romans.

One of the local hopes, ITSMYLUCKYDAY (Lawyer Ron - Viva La Slew, by Doneraile Court) made short work of his rivals, including Holy Bull rival Sr. Quisqueyano in the Gulfstream Derby, drawing off to a 6 ¾ length win. He has three stakes wins under his girth. Itsmyluckyday threw in a clunker in the Delta Jackpot. Was he outclassed or didn't he like the track? Itsmyluckyday's dam is a stakes placed sprinter. Florida Derby winner Vicar was produced from this female family.

CLEARLY NOW (Horse Greeley - Bend, by Arch) tired to third in his first two-turn attempt in the Display Stakes at Woodbine in December, finishing over five lengths behind Avie's Quality. That one was unplaced in last week's LeComte Stakes (G-3). Clearly Now's first crop sire has produced only four winners, none past seven furlongs. Clearly Now has plenty of Claiborne class and stamina on his distaff side and his first five dams, all own blacktype. He's bred for the dirt and his works at Palm Meadows are average.

Of the four longshots in the field, TULIRA CASTLE ( War Pass - Tulira, by General Assembly) appears to have the most upside. A 2 ¼ length winner in his first try over the Gulfstream dirt in an optional claimer, the son of War Pass hasn't skipped a beat in his training. He's a half brother to the stakes winning sprinter Mountain General and their dam's half sister foaled Wood Memorial hero Storm Tower. The major drawback? Trainer James DiVito's charges are 0 for 13 in graded stakes races.

Another interesting longshot is FREDERICKSBURG (Speightstown - Choreograph, by Dynaformer). In his first attempt over dirt, the Michael Matz trainee finished second to Tulira Castle in a dirt mile race at Gulfstream. Fredericksburg bobbled at the start but made up ground going four wide to finish second. The son of Speightstown is a full brother to the stakes placed turf miler Dancing To Town and a half to the multiple stakes winner Welcome Dance, a turf router.

SR. QUISQUEYANO (Exclusive Quality - Royal Navy, by Polish Navy) was no match for Itsmyluckyday in the Gulfstream Derby or the Foolish Pleasure Stakes. The Luis Olivares trainee has finished second in his last four races. Sr. Quisqueyano's dam is a half to two stakes winners and a couple of stakes placed runners.

The colt with the most starts in the field (15) is also the longest shot on the board. JOSHUA'S COMPRISE (Comprise - Princess Alert, by Katowice) has been whipped by over 50 lengths in his last four starts. He placed last year in restricted statebred races, but appears to be in deep here. His dam is a half sister to the multiple stakes winning sprinter Smokey Stover.


Track bias: Early speed generally rules at Gulfstream. Those stuck on the outside, especially going around the turn, are usually at a disadvantage. This is the first time that the race will be held at 1 1/16 miles since 2004.

Shanghai Bobby will be overbet and history indicates that, unless he's something really special, he will lose his first start of the year. Bern Identity owns :21 early speed, which could earn him the lead if he wants it. He's won all of his starts off of a layoff and posted a last out bullet. Frac Daddy and Dewey Square can also be competitive in here. Frac Daddy has a slow-fast-slow breeze pattern indicating that he could ready to go. Itsmyluckyday freaked in his last race, both visually and speed figure wise. It's a question of what did he beat and can he carry that momentum into the Holy Bull? A Michael Matz horse with morning line odds of 30-1? That's what you get with Fredericksburg. He dons a hood and owns a host of good works.

#4 Bern Identity

#2 Frac Daddy

#1 Shanghai Bobby

#9 Fredericksburg – longshot play

Friday, January 18, 2013

LeComte Stakes Offers Promise

In the last ten years, the only horse to win the LeComte Stakes (G-3) at the Fairgrounds and persevere on the Triple Crown trail and beyond is Hard Spun. The son of Danzig gave a good account of himself as a member of a strong crop of three year olds that included the Champions Street Sense, Curlin and Rags To Riches. Stakes veteran Ron the Greek won the Lecomte in 2010 and is now a leader in the Older Horse division.

This year, the LeComte is one of the qualifying races for the Kentucky Derby under the new points system. The winner of the 1 mile 70 yard race will earn ten points, while runners up will receive 4 (second) two (third) and one (fourth) points.

This year's field of nine contestants comprises of the usual stakes horses and recent allowance or maiden winners. A few colts offer promise. Circle Unbroken, is a graded stakes winner. Avie's Quality is a listed winner while Heitai and I've Struck A Nerve are both stakes placed.

CircleUnbrokenCIRCLE UNBROKEN (Broken Vow - Baldomera, by Doneraile Court) won his maiden and the Bashford Manor (G-3). After finishing second by a neck in the Mountaineer Juvenile last August, Circle Unbroken was out for the rest of the year. He's posted a steady string of breezes including a last out bullet at the Fairgrounds. Circle Unbroken's dam was a sturdy, classy mare, earning over $300,000 in 34 starts, including stakes wins. She placed in the Valley Stream (G-3) as a juvenile and owns the only blacktype in three generations.

AviesQualityAVIE'S QUALITY (Elusive Quality - Fly for Avie, by Lord Avie) has won his last two starts including the Display Stakes at Woodbine. The drawback? All starts came over Polytrack or turf. His works at Palm Meadows are a tad slower than those over the poly. This is an intriguing horse. Avie's Quality owns a pedigree to enjoy classic distances. His sire has a Derby/Preakness winner in Smarty Jones and his dam Fly For Avie is a G-1 winner at 1 ¼ miles and also won at 1 ½ miles over the lawn. Avie's Quality's half sister Avie's Tale won the Blushing KD Stakes over the Fairgrounds dirt and is also a winner over turf.

MalibuHighMALIBU HIGH (Malibu Moon - Hi Beautiful, by Snow Ridge) has shown promise in his first two starts sprinting. He's the first foal born of his sprint stakes placed dam. Malibu High should handle the stretch out to this distance.

Golden SoulGOLDEN SOUL (Perfect Soul (IRE) - Hollywood Gold, by Mr. Prospector) demolished maidens by over seven lengths in his first try over the Fairgrounds dirt. He cuts back in distance for the LeComte. Golden Soul has the pedigree to handle classic distances. His sire, Champion Turf Horse in Canada is also the sire of BC Filly & Mare Turf heroine Perfect Shirl. Golden Soul is a half brother to Lexington Stakes (G-2) winner Quinton's Gold Rush. His second dam Lady in Silver is a French Gr.1 winner at 10.5 furlongs.

FEAR THE KITTEN (Kitten's Joy - Dynarhythm, by Dynaformer) won his first two starts and made up ground after going widest of all in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. I'm not convinced that he's anything but a turf router who got lucky in his second start, a rained off the turf event. Often, turf runners can handle the mud, especially those by Kitten's Joy. He's switched barns and jocks in just about every start.

OXBOW (Awesome Again - Tizamazing, by Cee's Tizzy) was ambitiously placed in the CashCall Futurity (G-1) after winning his maiden at Churchill. He was wide the entire way and still managed to finish fourth. Oxbow is a full brother to Hollywood Prevue hero Awesome Patriot and their dam is a full sister to two-time Horse of the Year Tiznow. Oxbow has the pedigree to handle Classic distances and his legendary trainer Wayne Lukas has occasionally been known to pull a winning stakes race out of his hat.

HEITAI (Fusaichi Pegasus - Sparkles of Luck, by Mr. Sparkles) has won/placed in all six starts against state-bred company and now he's taking a baby-step up. His dam is a multiple stakes veteran over dirt and turf and his half sister Muffin is also well-known on the Louisiana circuit. Heitai has lead in the stretch in all except one of his starts, but still finds a way to get beat.

I'VE STRUCK A NERVE (Yankee Gentleman - Ranaway, by Cryptoclearance) started showing signs of life in his last two starts, both at the Fairgrounds. His dam is a half sister to the multiple graded stakes veterans K. J's Appeal and Slew Valley. I've Struck A Nerve appears to like the Fairgrounds, however Rosie Napravnik, the jockey who won/placed with him, jumps off to ride Avie's Quality. Not a good sign.

HAWAAKOM (Jazil - Nafisah (IRE), by Lahib) stormed from the back of the pack to win his maiden over this track/distance. The 1:46 time wasn't especially fast, but the colt increased his lead in the stretch. Distance shouldn't be an issue for Hawaakom. His sire is one of two consecutive Belmont Stakes winners produced by the blue hen Better Than Honour. The other, of course being Jazil's half sister Rags To Riches. Hawaakom's dam is a listed winner over the turf at about 1 3/16 miles. His half brother Snaafy is multiple group stakes placed in the UAE.


Track Bias: Overall, the Fairgrounds dirt is playing fair. In the last six years since the Fairgrounds was rebuilt, only one colt, Hard Spun, lead from gate to wire. Two winners pressed the pace while two others settled in mid pack. Only one winner, Ron the Greek, stormed from the back of the pack to win the Lecomte.

AVIE'S QUALITY is the total package. He has the pedigree, won his last two starts, ran a higher BRIS speed figure in every race and also owns the highest late pace speed figure. The $120K question? How will he fare over the dirt. His stakes winning dam and half sister handled dirt and turf just fine. He should too. CIRCLE UNBROKEN is the class of the field, but there are two drawbacks. He's stretching out in distance and hasn't raced since last August. His trainer is 11% off of the layoff. GOLDEN SOUL likes the Fairgrounds and could surprise. FEAR THE KITTEN owns good late pace figures and the barn is 22% with horses coming off of a layoff. Another one who may or may not handle the dirt.




#3 FEAR THE KITTEN – longshot pick


Friday, January 4, 2013

The Sham Stakes

ShamThe Sham Stakes (G-3) was named in honor of the 1973 underdog who chased Secretariat through the Triple Crown and ultimately had his heart broken in the Belmont Stakes. He finished second to Secretariat, in the Kentucky Derby, despite bashing his head against the starting gate so hard he lost two teeth. His time under the wire was a sub 2:00 and faster than Monarchos' winning time in 2001. In any other year, Sham would have been a Triple Crown winner.

Previously held later in the year at 1 1/8 miles, the Sham stakes was shortened to 1 1/6 miles in 2011 and contested in mid-January. Last year, the race was shortened still further and is now held in early January. When the Sham was held at the original 1 1/8 miles, 2005 Kentucky Derby hero Giacamo finished third. Empire Maker, second in the 2003 Derby, also placed third in the Sham. Since the race was shortened, none of the winners or runners-up have made an impact on the Triple Crown.

Under the new Kentucky Derby points system, the victor of the Sham will earn 10 points, while the second, third and fourth place finishers will receive 4, 2 and 1 points, respectively.

goldencents Delta JackpotThis year's big horse in the Sham is Delta Jackpot hero GOLDENCENTS. The son of first crop sire Into Mischief had no difficulty stretching his speed around two turns, galloping to a front-running 1 ¾ length victory over the heavy favorite, Bern Identity. To be fair, Bern Identity had been bottled up through the stretch.

Goldencents may vie on the lead with his stablemate GREELEY AWESOME (Mr. Greeley - Dattts Awesome, by Awesome Again). The Doug O'Neil trainee totally outclassed a $40K maiden claiming field in his last, despite running greenly. With a BC Classic hero and two Kentucky Derby winners as his first three damsires, the colt has the pedigree to handle classic distances. His dam is a stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles and Greeley Awesome's female family is scattered with stakes winners.

Dens_LegacyWhat would a California stakes race be without a Baffert horse? The silver-haired trainer brings a last out maiden winner and a graded stakes winner into the race. DEN'S LEGACY has been out of the money in only two of his eight lifetime starts and he's made all except one start over synthetics or turf. He made a wide late move in the CashCall Futurity (G-1) to get up for third, 3 ¾ lengths behind Violence. It should be noted that Den's Legacy's worst finish was over the Santa Anita dirt in the Frontrunner Stakes.

Baffert's other runner is the last out maiden winner MANANDO (Bluegrass Cat - Mesmerizing Lady, by Unbridled's Song). The improving colt earned a front running 5 ¼ victory after stretching out to two turns. His unraced dam is a half sister to the multiple stakes winning sprinter Spring Meadow.

DIRTY SWAGran a deceptively good race in the Real Quiet. He was wide the entire way, got into a dog fight in the stretch, and was bested by only a length. In the Frontrunner Stakes, the son of first crop sire Street Hero was squeezed at the start and never got into the race. Dirty Swag has the pedigree to enjoy running long and should improve with time. However, his worst finish was over the Santa Anita dirt in the Frontrunner Stakes. Was it the dirt or level of competition?

DRY SUMMER showed promise last summer with a gutsy victory in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf. A few weeks later, he was detoured to the dirt, where he didn't lift a hoof, trounced by over 20 lengths. A week later, the son of Any Given Saturday was thrown back onto the turf against superior colts in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Dry Summer still have to prove that he can handle the dirt, but he should fit with this level of competition.


Only three colts in the field have finished in the money over the Santa Anita dirt. Goldencents is the obvious class and speed of the race. He's fired three fast 6F moves over the surface and he's the one to beat. Manando has plenty of early speed and may use it against Goldencents. The improving colt also owns the highest late pace speed figure in the field, ten points above his stablemate Den's Legacy. If the top two get into a speed duel, Greeley Awesome or the improving Den's Legacy could spoil the party.

#2   Goldencents

#6   Manando

#1   Den's Legacy

#3   Greeley Awesome