Saturday, May 9, 2015

Future Turf Stars at Belmont Park

belmont-park-racetrack-2 (May 9, 2015)  Saturday’s tenth race at Belmont is for maidens traveling a mile over the lawn. This is a large, contentious field filled with promising youngsters. I expect that we’ll be seeing at least three or four of them headlining stakes in the future. Let’s review the pedigrees.

ASBAAD (Street Cry) is the second foal out of Lear's Princess.  Lear's Princess won the Gazelle over Rags to Riches and finished 2nd in the CCA Oaks and Alabama.  She also won the Tweedside Stakes at 1 1/16 m. on the lawn.    Asbaad has a good turf pedigree.  Street Cry gets  12% turf winners (that's a Brisnet stat and I think it's wrong, probably closer to 16% or more).  Damsire Lear Fan is a French G-1 winner. 

Asbaad’s stablemate ARGHAD (Distorted Humor) (AE) Scratched. is a half brother to multiple turf stakes winner Victory Lap and to multiple graded stakes winning sprinter Zanjero, plus his full sister, the stakes placed Acacia.

BUBBA'S D'ORO (Medaglia d'Oro) is Arghad’s older half brother. Trainer Bruce Levine is 0-7 with first timers over the lawn.

TIZ AFLEET (Tiz Wonderful) is the first foal out of his dam, Afleet Frio. She’s a half sister to the multiple stakes winning veteran Beau’s Town. Now Beau’s Town was noted as a dirt horse, but he did win his sole foray on the lawn, plus two of the dam’s other half siblings won or placed on turf. This is an experiment for Tiz Afleet. His sire gets 10% winners over grass, and the Mott barn is 16% with first time turf runners. Note that Tiz Afleet worked a second to last bullet over the training track.

LONE TRADER (More Than Ready) is the first foal out of Carriage Trade, whose full brother Art Museum won a turf sprint stakes in Ireland. She’s also a half sister to Fountain of Youth hero Lil’s Lad. Lone Trader’s speed figures have improved in every start and he switches back to turf. Trainer Michael Hushion has a fantastic 31% win rate with a horse making its third start off of a layoff.

FIRE AWAY (War Front) is a Phipps family bred half brother to Belmont Derby Invitational (G-1) hero Mr. Speaker. Their dam Salute is a graded stakes placed ¾ sister to Miner’s Mark and Our Emblem, plus a half to My Flag, etc. etc. Fire Away’s second dam is the Champion and blue hen Personal Ensign. Yes…THAT family! If he lives up to his pedigree, Fire Away is a sire in the making. Fire Away didn’t show much as a two year old, so he got some time off to grow up. He has a string of fast works from the conservative McGaughey barn and gets first time Lasix.

INFINITE MIDNIGHT (Giant’s Causeway) is a half to 2011 Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude and his full brother, Oceanside Stakes winner Midnight Crooner. Their dam is Gr.1 placed in New Zealand. Top grass trainer Chad Brown and Irad Ortiz, Jr. team up for a 39% win rate.

SHINOBI (Lord Shanakill) has breeding we don’t see every day. His sire is a Gr. 2 winning turf sprinter by Speightstown and his damsire Black Sam Bellamy is a full brother to Galileo. Shinobi is the first foal out of his German-bred dam. He has line breeding (4 generations and back) to the blue hen Special. She’s the dam of Nureyev (4x5 in this pedigree) and she’s also the grand-dam of Sadlers Wells (sire of Black Sam Bellamy). There’s 5Sx5Dx6D (5Sire x 5 Dam x 5 Dam) inbreeding to Special in Shinobi’s pedigree. You can never have too much of a good thing. Shinobi and his stablemate Infinate Transfer appear to be workmates. High percentage trainer Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano combine for an outstanding 41% win rate.

VEYA (Giant’s Causeway) is out of one of the last daughters of the great Seattle Slew. Veya’s second damsire is Northern Dancer It’s rare to find these names so close up in a pedigree and it’s a shame that Veya is a gelding. Althugh looking at his race record of 0-13, perhaps it’s for the best. Veya is a half to Irish 2000 Guineas winner Bachelor Duke, plus a German SW and a French SP runner. Veya’s third through fifth dams (Lisadell, Thong, Rough Shod) are all blue hens. Veya gets blinkers back on. The Ribaudo barn is 0-3 with this angle and has a 5% win rate with turf horses. Veya doesn’t seem to care for racing. Maybe he’d make a good steeplechaser or eventer.

BRITANNIA'S MOAT (English Channel) is a half to the stakes winning sprinter Freeway Ticket and a two stakes placed runners. There’s some minor blacktype in the first couple of generations and this is the distaff line of Champion Sprinter Xtra Heat. Britannia’s Moat was beaten only a length in his debut as a two year old. His works are on the average/slow side, but Donk and Franco team for a 27% win rate.

SENOR CASANOVA (Medaglia d'Oro) is the first foal out of the stakes winning veteran Model, who is multiple G-1 placed (Spinster, Santa Maria H., Santa Margarita Inv.). Senor Casanova’s second dam Snowfire placed in the 1000 Guineas. Senor Casanova has been working spectacularly for Clement.

ROCK EAGLE (Indian Charlie) has very little blacktype in his immediate female family. His dam placed in two stakes races over the lawn (one at Belmont) and his second dam is also stakes placed. Going back a generation is where we find all of the stakes winners, including QE II winner Bit of Whimsy, multiple graded placed Sky Blazer and a host of other turf stakes winners. Rock Eagle went seven wide in a turf sprint at Gulstream and missed by only ½ a length in a blanket finish. Tagg/Maragh are 0-9 together.

TIZ TIME TO SHAKE (Tiz Wonderful) has turf attributes in his distaff line. None of his half siblings own blacktype, but a couple have won or placed on the lawn. His dam is a stakes winning turf miler and his second dam Shake the Yoke was a multiple group winner in England. The Shivmangal barn has poor stats and jockey Eric Cancel is 0-27 on the turf.

STEEL SKY (Even the Score) (AE) SCRATCHED.


In a large field of youngsters, many of whom are making their debut, experience matters.

ROCK EAGLE (4-1), BRITANNIA'S MOAT (8-1), LONE TRADER (6-1) and TIZ AFLEET (8-1) all have experience and with the right trip, any one of them could win. SENOR CASANOVA (10-1) has some of the best works in the field. Don’t ignore that second to last bullet breeze. He’ll be live. FIRE AWAY (12-1) didn’t run a step in two starts as a two year old. Note the sharp 3F moves to put some speed into this colt. I’m inclined to give him another chance. Leading trainer Chad Brown’s duo of INFINITE MIDNIGHT (5-1) and SHINOBI (9-2) will be heavy favorites. Both have the class, and the conditioning, to win first time out.

This is a tough race to handicap. I suggest box exotics.


#6 SHINOBI (9-2)



#4 FIRE AWAY (12-1)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Kiddie List – May 6, 2015

The kiddie list

The most precocious of this year’s crop of two year olds made their arrival on the racing scene at Keeneland’s spring meet this month. Three races are carded for two year old in April.  As summer deepens, more tracks will be carding races for the babies.  As I’ve done over the last four years, I’ll continue the Kiddie List as I seek out the best and brightest of this next generation.  Condo Commando, Take Charge Brandi, Eskenformoney, Carpe Diem, Mr. Z, Frosted, Dullahan, Take Charge Indy, Union Rags, Creative Cause, Drill, Dreaming of Julia, Beholder, and countless other runners were featured on the Kiddie List before they hit the national radar. Many juveniles that were highlighted on the Kiddie List have rewarded their backers with double digit wins.

Kiddie List graphic The Kiddie List covers the fastest workers and blue bloods breezing four furlongs and farther.  I’ll cover the New York, Kentucky, California and Florida tracks, and occasionally 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.

Saratoga opened the doors for training on April 20. 


The first couple of two year olds to set foot on the dirt training track are a couple of precocious youngsters.


TARPON (Discreet Cat - I Know Better, by Unbridled's Song) (C ) 3F :37.08 (2/8)  (KEESEP14  $110K) Possibly trained by Todd Pletcher, this colt breezed twice previously at Palm Meadows.  His half brother by Sky Mesa needed six starts to find the right level, but did hit the board in his third start. Discreet Cat gets 11% FTS.  Tarpon’s dam failed to win in 4 starts, but hit the board twice.  She’s a half to MSP miler Elusive Schemes (Elusive Quality).  Tarpon’s third dam STORM BEAUTY won the Miss Preakness and his fourth dam is the blue hen Stick to Beauty, dam of Champion Sprinter GOLD BEAUTY (dam of Champion and sire DAYJUR).  Filly Triple Crown heroine SKY BEAUTY, Cigar Mile winner and sire TALE OF EKATI, G1 winners POINT OF ENTRY, and PINE ISLAND are just some of the accomplished runners descended from Stick to Beauty. Tarpon’s pedigree is miler speed over stamina. He won’t have a problem getting two turns and may prefer longer sprints.


Malibu Moon-Quanah County   at JJ farm Sept 24 2014 TONASAH (Malibu Moon - Quanah County, by Valid Expectations) (F) 3F :37.08 (2/8)  (KEESEP14  $250K) likely Tarpon’s stablemate, her previous breeze at Palm Meadows matches his.  Tonasah is a half to the G-3 SW sprinter QUANTUM MISS (Smoke Glacken) and SP Kelwynne (Yes Its True).  Quantum Miss won the Blue Mountain Stakes for juvenile fillies and Kelwynne placed in the race. All five of Tonasah’s half siblings were precocious, winning or placing at two. Their dam won her debut and placed in three stakes races in California, including the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park. Malibu Moon gets an average 14% two year old winners and an excellent 36% FTS.  Tonasah may be distance challenged beyond a mile to 1 1/16 miles, but she could have an excellent chance of winning or hitting the board in her debut. Keep an eye on her.



LADY DEVIL (High Cotton - Aztec Sally, by Medaglia d'Oro) (F) 3F :37.60 (2/13) (OBSMAR13 $260K) She’s a half to SP juvenile Aztec Key (Circular Quay), and had a 3-1-1-1 race record, all at age two.   Lady Devil’s fourth dam is the blue hen COLD HEARTED, dam of Belmont Stakes hero CAVEAT. Other notable names descended from this mare is leading California sire BENCHMARK, multiple G1 winner TRANQUILITY LAKE and her offspring, AFTER MARKET, COURAGOUS CAT and JALIL, plus the MSW veteran GIMMIE CREDIT. Other than Aztec Key, this particular family branch hasn’t produced any blacktype for three generations.  Lady Devil has a miler over stamina pedigree, with 3x3 inbreeding to A.P. Indy (who is the damsire of both High Cotton and Aztec Sally).  


SPLIT THE UPRIGHTS (Cape Blanco (IRE) - Saratoga Fling, by Pulpit) (C) 3F :38.17 (7/13) (FTKJUL14 $110K) is a son of Arlington Million hero and Freshman Sire Cape Blanco. He’s the first foal out of his dam, an allowance class dirt sprinter.  Saratoga Fling was unplaced in two turf attempts. She’s a half sister to the French SW turf miler CHERIEARCH (Arch).  Split the Uprights’ second dam CHERISH DESTINY is a SW dirt sprinter. This is the distaff line of MG1 heroine CHAMPAGNE D’ORO and Belmont Stakes winner RULER ON ICE. Split the Uprights is by a turf router out of a dirt sprinter.  His pedigree suggests that she may prefer going a mile. Anybody’s guess as to which surface.


STRATEGIC ELEGANCE (Courageous Cat - Powerful Elegance, by Smart Strike) (C) 3F :38.17 (7/13) is a son of multiple G1 winning turf miler and Freshman Sire Courageous Cat, who is a  full brother to G1 turf winner and sire AFTER MARKET). Strategic Elegance is the first foal out of his unraced dam. Powerful Elegance is a half to Santa Anita Oaks (G-1) heroine SILENT SIGHS (Bertrando), her full sister G-2 winner PROPOSED and this year’s San Felipe Stakes runner-up Prospect Park (Tapit).  Strategic Elegance has the pedigree to do well over various surfaces and distance as a two year old shouldn’t be an issue. Courageous Cat’s offspring should be mid-season (July forward) types who could do well over various surfaces.


DEEPLY UNDERVALUED (Kitten's Joy - Dream About, by Cherokee Run) (C) 3F :39.00 (10/13) (KEESEP14 $200K)  he’s a half brother to the stakes turf veteran SLEEPLESS KNIGHT (War Chant).  His half sister  Sleepless Dixie (Dixie Union) was 0-10 on turf and finished third in two juvie stakes at Monmouth.  DREAM ABOUT was second in her debut and won the Mazarine Breeders' Cup Stakes (G-2) in her third start as a two year old. Deeply Undervalued’s second through fourth dams all own blacktype. Kitten’s Joy’s two year olds win at an average 16% and 17% winners from FTS.


LIFE IMITATES ART (More Than Ready - Habiboo, by Unbridled's Song) (C) 3F :39.00 (10/13) (KEESEP14 $175K)  has three half siblings, only one raced at two, and was unplaced. HABIBOO won the First Flight Handicap (G2) as a juvenile and she’s a half sister to the MG1 sprinter and sire STREET BOSS (Street Cry).  The second dam is stakes placed and the third and fourth dams are French blacktype earners.  More Than Ready is an above average sire of juveniles, getting 18% winners, although only 11% winners from FTS. Life Imitates Art could do well over dirt or turf and may prefer longer sprints to middle distances.


CYBER SECURITY (Broken Vow - Cameron Crazies, by Lion Heart) (C )  3F :39.63 (12/13)  (OBSAUG14 $185K) he’s a half to the stakes winning sprinter PRUDHOE BAY (Songandaprayer), who won his debut at two and the Jersey Shore Stakes (G-3) at three. Their dam was second in the Schuylerville Stakes at two and owns the only blacktype in two generations. Broken Vow’s two year olds win at 16% and his FTS at 11%. Cyber Security has the pedigree to be an early summer sprinter/miler.


ECONOMIC MODEL (Flatter - Queen of America, by Quiet American)  (C) 3F :39.63 (12/13)  (KEESEP14 $150K) this Claiborne Farm-bred colt is a half brother to WELL MONIED (Maria’s Mon), winner of the Honeymoon Handicap (G-2) and runner-up in the American Oaks Invitational and Del Mar Oaks, both G-1 events on the lawn.  He’s also a half to the stakes winning turf miler JIMMY SIMMS (Lost Soldier).  Two of Economic Model’s half siblings raced at two, both hit the board but didn’t win. Three of his six half siblings to race are winners. Flatter gets an average 16% two year old winners but only 11% FTS win. Economic Model may be a mid-to-late two year old and prefer longer sprints to middle distances.




Friday, April 3, 2015

2015 Kentucky Derby Trail – Wood Memorial

Derby Trail Read the Santa Anita Derby review.

At one time, the Wood Memorial was a prestigious race, won by Seattle Slew, Foolish Pleasure, Fusaichi Pegasus, on their way to Kentucky Derby victories. Secretariat, Genuine Risk, Monarchos and Funnycide also prepped in the 1 1/8 mile event. However, the Grade 1 contest has faded into the woodwork as a legitimate measure of class for Kentucky Derby contestants. Since 2004, none of the top three finishers in the Wood Memorial had an impact on the Kentucky Derby. For the last two years, Wood Memorial runners rounded out the Derby Superfecta in fourth place, as did Tale of Ekati in 2008. Perhaps one of the colts below can reverse the trend for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.

The Favorites:

EL KABEIR (Scat Daddy - Great Venue, by Unbridled's Song) has never finished worse than fourth. He’s pretty much ruled the New York Prep races, until Far From Over busted El Kabeir’s winning streak in the Withers. El Kabeir came back to triumph by 2 ¾ lengths in the Gotham over Tiz Shea. The notable point about the victory was that El Kabeir changed his front running style to come from off of the pace. That versatility can only help him with distance in the Wood Memorial. El Kabeir’s immediate family is loaded with talent. Four of his dam’s five half siblings own blacktype. Read his pedigree profile.

FROSTED (Tapit - Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister) couldn’t compete with the likes of Upstart in Florida. In the Fountain of Youth, Frosted found himself contesting the lead, but couldn’t sustain the run and tired to fourth place. I don’t think this guy likes to go by other horses. Other than outclassing a maiden field, Frosted has been second or third in every start. The pretty gray colt’s dam is a multiple graded stakes winning miler. She’s a half sister to the Champion Juvenile Midshipman. His second dam Fleet Lady is also a multiple graded stakes winner. Frosted should handle the 1 1/8 miles, but I don’t think he’ll get under the wire ahead of the field unless nobody else is up to the task.

DAREDEVIL (More Than Ready - Chasethewildwind, by Forty Niner) made his three year old season bow in the seven furlong Swale Stakes, finishing a good second after going three wide on the turn chasing a loose on the lead Ready for Rye. It was ten lengths back to the third place horse. Daredevil is a half brother to Donn Handicap (G-1) winner Albertus Maximus and to graded stakes placed Chasethegold. His dam is a half sister to the dam of Forgo Stakes (G-1) hero Here Comes Ben. Daredevil’s second dam Race The Wild Wind is a multiple Grade 2 winner. Daredevil should handle the distance and the competition isn’t too tough. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won two of the last three editions of the Wood Memorial.


Upset Contenders:

TIZ SHEA D (Tiznow - Ender's Sister, by A.P. Indy) faced the more experienced El Kabeir on his own ground in the Gotham. The Bill Mott trainee was boxed behind horses when the running began and found a pinhole opening on the rail late to hold second place by a head. It was a very courageous effort for only his second start. Tiz Shea D has the pedigree to love 1 1/8 miles and could handle the Belmont Stakes distance comfortably. His dam is a multiple graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles and her full brother Ender’s Shadow is multiple stakes placed. Plenty of back class here, as his third dam is the multiple stakes winning veteran Fit for a Queen. If Tiz Shea D gets a better trip, he could steal the race. Keep an eye on this one.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL (Colonel John - Lovely View, by Carson City) was beaten like a new recruit in the Gotham Stakes. His pedigree is stamina over plenty of speed. He may have had an excuse last time out, but I think the distance is too far. Perhaps he can round out the superfecta with a good trip.


Can’t Recommend:

TOASTING MASTER (Congrats - Broadway Gold, by Seeking the Gold) loves to run on the lead, but he’s finished off of the board in his last three starts. Toasting Master is a half brother to multiple stakes winner R Gypsy Gold, Razorback Handicap hero Golden Lad, and Grade 2 winner and Kentucky Oaks runner-up Broadway’s Alibi. Their dam is a stakes winning half sister to Florida Derby hero and new sire Dialed In. Second dam Miss Doolittle placed in the Schuylerville Stakes (G-2) as a two year old and the second dam Eliza earned Champion 2YO Filly honors. Toasting Master may not want to go much farther than 1 1/16 miles and at this point in his career, he either needs a rest or just isn’t up to this level of competition.

TENCENDUR (Warrior's Reward - Still Secret, by Hennessy) has watched the gray hind end of El Kabeir pull away in their last two meetings. I don’t see a reversal here. Tencendur has, at best, a miler’s pedigree and also appears to be outclassed.



Race Keys: Four of the last five Wood Memorial winners shipped in from Florida, while the fifth was third in the Gotham. In the last ten years, half of the winners won their prep race.

It looks like almost everybody wants to be on the lead or pressing the pace. El Kabeir can sit back and make a move. If he has to go too wide at this distance, he may not sustain the bid. Daredevil fits the race keys, is trained by Pletcher, should handle the distance and shook the rust off in the Swale. Tiz Shea D has the best pedigree in the field for the distance.





Friday, March 27, 2015

Handicapping the 2015 Louisiana Derby

Derby Trail The Louisiana Derby is one of the final prep races for the Kentucky Derby. The last horse to contest the Fairgrounds feature and win in Kentucky was Funny Cide, in 2003. He finished second in the Louisiana Derby that year to Peace Rules, but turned the tables in Kentucky, where Peace Rules finished third. Since 2003, the 1 1/8 mile Grade 2 event has been a good place to find contenders to hit the board at long odds in Kentucky. In the last two years, Revolutionary, Commanding Curve and Golden Soul all finished second or third in the Kentucky Derby. In 2011, Nehro and Mucho Macho Man finished second and third, respectively, in the Louisiana Derby and repeated that placing five weeks later. The winner of the Louisiana Derby earns 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points and a spot in the starting gate the first Saturday in May.



The Stars

This year’s Louisiana Derby big horse is INTERNATIONAL STAR (Fusaichi Pegasus - Parlez, by French Deputy). He’s poised to become the first colt since Friesan Fire in 2010 and Pyro in 2009 to sweep the race series of the LeComte, Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. International Star has dominated the LeComte and Risen Star by a combined 3 ½ lengths. Not ultra-impressive, but the colt’s stalking style and strong late kick earns him the highest late pace speed figure in the field. Of more concern is his ability, pedigree wise, to handle 1 1/8 miles. His sire has produced winners at 1 1/8 miles and beyond, however, damsire French Deputy was a top weighted miler and his daughter’s offspring lean more towards sprinter/miler speed. International Star’s half sister Fools in Love won and placed in stakes races up to 1 1/16 miles. Her full brother D C Dancer won the Maryland Million Sprint Handicap. Their dam was an allowance class winner at 1 1/16 miles. International Star’s running style and class may overcome his miler-type pedigree.

MR. Z earns the reward as the most experienced, hard knocking, tough luck colt in this crop of three year olds. He’s taken on the best runners from New York to California and everywhere in between. He hasn’t ducked anyone and always gives a top performance. In his last three starts, Mr. Z was out finished by the California monster Dortmund by a neck and was third, to Far Right in the Smarty Jones and Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. Mr. Z has raced ten times without a break since his debut last June. He may tangle with St. Joe Bay on the front end and still be in the thick of things at the wire. In 2010, Mission Impazible was third in the Southwest Stakes before winning the Louisiana Derby.

WAR STORY (Northern Afleet - Belle Watling, by Pulpit) is in the supporting actor role here. He’s finished second behind International Star in both Louisiana Preps. War Story is by the sire of Champion Three Year Old Afleet Alex, who won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Northern Afleet also sired the Champion sprinter Amazombie. War Story’s dam is a half sister to a stakes winning miler who bore two stakes winning milers, Whisky Romeo and Shared Property. This is the distaff family of Champion Juvenile Filly Epitome. War Story could handle the stretch out here, and his stalker style could propel him to the winner’s circle.

Also Featuring

STANFORD (Malibu Moon - Rosy Humor, by Distorted Humor) ships to Louisiana in search of easier company after a 5 ½ length defeat at the hooves of his stablemate Materiality in the 1 1/8 mile Islamorada Handicap. Stanford veered out in the stretch of the race and was DQ’d to sixth place. Meanwhile, Materiality is expected to contest the Florida Derby. Stanford descends from a noteworthy Claiborne Farm distaff family. Although this immediate branch has yet to bear blacktype winners, Stanford’s second dam Show Me The Roses is a half sister to Champion Johannesburg. So far, Stanford isn’t living up to his illustrious breeding or his hefty $550K price tag. He’s conquered maidens and optional claimers, but hasn’t fared well in two stakes attempts. Perhaps he can rebound here. Never count out a Pletcher horse.

KEEN ICE (Curlin - Medomak, by Awesome Again) shipped in to the Fairgrounds for the Risen Star after a poor placing over the speed favoring Gulfstream Park surface in the Holy Bull. The Dale Romans trainee rewarded his connections with a third place finish in that race. Keen Ice is by a Breeders’ Cup Classic hero out of a mare by a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, so 1 ¼ miles should certainly be within his scope. As for quality, Keen Ice’s dam is a half sister to the G-3 winning miler Coal Play. This is the distaff family of Grade 1 winners Serra Lake, Somali Lemonade, Verrazano, plus multiple graded winners Hungry Island and Al Khali. The 1 1/8 miles and long Fairgrounds stretch should play to Keen Ice’s strengths. However, is he this year’s version of Commanding Curve (who was last year’s version of Golden Soul) or is there something else here?

Supporting Roles

FUSAICHI FLAME (Fusaichi Pegasus - Merry Mary, by Leestown) has the pedigree of a sprinter/miler. He romped to a 5 ¼ length victory last time out against optional claimers going a mile over the muddy track and has been out of the money only once in his career. He can run from anywhere in the pack. So what’s the problem? His speed figures aren’t that great and he’s taking on tougher company. He could be worth a play for the exotics at long odds and could hit the board with a lifetime best if the top contenders falter.

ST. JOE BAY (Saint Anddan - Dream Ride, by Honor Glide) loves to mix it up early and does his best to stick around at the end of the race to pick up a check. In his first start around two turns, St. Joe Bay was beaten a head for third place by the surging Keen Ice. The million dollar question is – Can St. Joe Bay tussle with the speedy Mr. Z and last at 1 1/8 miles. Perhaps, but I’m not betting on it.

DEFONDO (El Corredor - Blue Hills, by Cure the Blues) isn’t a bad colt, but he was bested by a colt named Bubba Roan in an allowance race last time out at 1 mile 70 yards after being forwardly placed. He’d have to improve quite a bit to have a say here.

A DAY IN PARADISE (Yes It's True - Tiz Paula, by Tiznow) has a speed over stamina pedigree. He was bested 2 ¾ lengths last year at the Fairgrounds by War Story in an optional claimer. In his three year old debut, the Larry Jones trainee easily beat stakes runners in Texas. Nice colt, but his speed figures and pedigree indicate this is a tough spot.


Track bias: Four of the last five winners of the Louisiana Derby have been pace pressers and favorites win only 37%.

There’s plenty of early speed in this race. Mr. Z and St. Joes Bay figure to battle it out early and could ensure a fast early pace. War Story and Stanford should get a good position behind the leaders while International Star and Keen Ice bide their time at the back of the pack. War Story could get the jump on International Star, but the breeding on both colts is iffy for the 1 1/8 mile distance. It could be that International Star will overcome his breeding and we know he loves the Fairgrounds. Only two favorites in the last six years have won this race. I’m chickening out and going with International Star. He reminds me too much of Friesan Fire and Pyro.


#2 MR. Z



Friday, February 6, 2015

Handicapping the Withers Stakes

Dortmund vs. Firing Line in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes here.


Aqueduct starting gate The 2015 Withers Stakes (G-3) pits Jerome Stakes hero El Kabeir against a seemingly over matched field of last out maiden winners. Early February is when the less precocious runners begin to mature and improve. Kiaran McLaughlin has been hogging the Wither’s winner’s circle. He’s had his picture taken three times in the last ten years. Todd Pletcher has captured the 1 1/16 mile race twice in that time frame. Both of them have contestants who, if they run as expected, could pull an upset on the pretty gray El Kabeir.

The Big Hoss

El_Kabeir_1 EL KABEIR (Scat Daddy - Great Venue, by Unbridled's Song) kicked off his three year old season with a scintillating victory in the 1 mile 70 yard Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct last month, galloping under the wire 4 ½ lengths ahead of his nearest competitor. El Kabeir’s immediate family is loaded with talent. Four of his dam’s five half siblings own blacktype. Read his pedigree profile here.




FAR FROM OVER (Blame - Alchemist, by A.P. Indy) won his debut on December12. He was briefly headed but determinedly came back at the wire. It was more than six lengths back to the third place finisher. The time for the 1 mile 70 yards was 1:43.11, which was the second-fastest time for that distance in the racing week. For comparison, El Kabeir won the Jerome in 1:44.69. Far From Over has the best pedigree in the field and the farther the better for him. He is a half brother to a listed winner and to the multiple G-1 stakes placed And Why Not. His dam placed in 1 1/8 mile Grade 3 stakes. She’s a full sister to Turnback the Alarm Handicap heroine ALTESSE. Far From Over’s second dam is ALDIZA, who won graded events from 6 ½ furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Far From Over is inbred to the blue hen COURTLY DEE through full sisters Althea, the second dam of Blame’s sire Arch, and Aishah, who is Far From Over’s third dam. The todd Pletcher trainee worked a second to last bullet in preparation for the Withers.


MARCH (Blame - Lifeinthefastlane, by Unbridled's Song) earned his maiden victory by a neck in his second start. Like Far From Over, March is a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Blame and March should improve with maturity and distance. He’s a half brother to Bay Shore Stakes (G-3) hero EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY. There’s little blacktype in March’s Claiborne-bred immediate female family, however, this is the distaff line of the Grade 1 winning sire SEEKING THE GOLD, Champion Juvenile Filly QUEEN OF THE STAGE, Remsen hero FAST PLAY and REVIEWER, sire of the legendary RUFFIAN. Conditioned by Chad Brown, March prepped with a pre-race bullet breeze.


CLASSY CLASS (Discreetly Mine - Collegiate, by Saarland) was tossed into the 1 1/8 mile Remsen last year after a score at 6 ½ furlongs. Not surprising that he weakened in the stretch. Classy Class’s stakes placed dam is a half sister to a stakes winning turf miler and stakes winning sprinter. The colt receives stamina attributes through his damsire, but his sire and distaff line strongly lean towards miler speed. Classy Class may find 1 1/16 miles at the top of his scope. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee draws the rail which could help.

Long Shot Chance

UNRIVALED (Super Saver - Safely, by Unbridled) began his career last July in sprints, but it wasn’t until late December when he put it all together, easily out distancing a full field of maidens going a mile at PARX. Yes, the time was a yawn inducing 1:43.52, however, Unrivaled galloped to a 15 length win, little more than a paid breeze. So what’s so special about this colt? He’s an April foal whose pedigree suggests that Unrivaled should improve with maturity and could handle classic distances. His dam is a full sister to HONEST MAN, who hit his best stride as a four and five year old, with victories in the Mineshaft Handicap at 1 1/6 miles and the 1 1/8 miles Philip H. Iselin Stakes, both Grade 3 events. Unrivaled’s second dam OATH won the Spinaway (G-1) and she’s a half sister to Champion Juvenile WAR PASS. Unrivaled could be one of those colts who will mature rapidly.

TENCENDUR (Warrior's Reward - Still Secret, by Hennessy) got up to beat state-bred maidens by ¾ length in his last race. He was pinned on the inside for most of the race with nowhere to go and had a tough time getting out for running room. Once he was free, the George Weaver colt lengthened stride nicely. The son of the top ten Freshman Sire is a half brother to the multiple restricted stakes winner MOTHER RUSSIA. In his debut, Tencendur was beaten by over six lengths by March On. Tencendur’s speed figure improved in his second start and he gets a jockey upgrade to Cornelio Velasquez.

Not today

GENERAL BELLAMY (Bellamy Road - Sweet Again, by Awesome Again) had an excuse in the Jerome, as he bobbled at the start of the race. He finished a one-paced third, never gaining ground at any point. The colt’s dam is an unraced daughter of Alabama Stakes (G-1) winner SWEET SYMPHONY. Slow but steady describes this colt. His speed figures are improving, but very slowly, and his works are conservative, but steady. Slow and steady may win some races, but not at 1 1/16 miles at Aqueduct.


Track bias: Early speed rules on Aqueduct’s inner track. 20% of the meet’s winners at a mile and beyond have wired the field. Pace pressers have finished first 46% of the time.

El Kabeir is a free-running colt who likes to wing it on or near the lead. That and his far outside post, combined with his miler pedigree could make El Kabeir a vulnerable favorite if one of the other contenders takes it to him early. Could a last out maiden winner beat the Champ? Sure, Todd Pletcher did it with Revolutionary in 2013. His contender Far From Over has the speed and could pull an upset.




#5 UNRIVALED – longshot play

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sam F. Davis Stakes – Handicapping the Race


Tampa Bay Starting Gate During the past 30 editions of the Sam F. Davis Stakes, several horses who have won or placed in the race have continued on to do well either on the Triple Crown trail or in the top mid-summer races. Blue Grass Cat later finished second in both the 2006 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. A year later, Any Given Saturday won the Haskell Invitational (G-1), and the following year, Musket Man was third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. In 2031, this prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby was removed as a Kentucky Derby Points Qualifier and we’ve seen a loss in quality in the last two fields.

That hasn’t stopped twelve hopefuls from entering this year’s 1 1/16 mile Grade Three event. The field consists of the usual last out maiden winners, optional claimers looking for blacktype and some listed stakes runners. Nine of the twelve colts won or placed in their last start.

The Favorites

AMI'S FLATTER (Flatter - Galloping Ami, by Victory Gallop) made up ground in the one mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream last time out, finishing second by 1 ¾ lengths to the speedy Bluegrass Singer. That one came back to finish third recently in the Holy Bull Stakes (G-2). Ami’s Flatter should excel with distance. He’s a half brother to ARAGORN AMI, who won the Martha Washington Stakes. Ami’s Flatter’s dam is an unraced full sister to stakes winner VICTORIOUS AMI, dam of multiple stakes winner AMI’S HOLIDAY, a winner from 1 1/16 miles to 1 ½ miles. Ami’s Flatter came back to work a post-race bullet and should be ready to take a step forward.


CATALINA RED (Munnings - Lovely Dream, by Freud) has speed on the rail. He showed his love for the Tampa circuit winning both of his starts at the track. The son of Munnings won his maiden while setting a stakes record of 1:09.32 for six furlongs in the Inaugural Stakes, winning by 7 ¼ lengths. Next out, Catalina Red sat slightly off of the pace in the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes before beating eventual Hutcheson Stakes runner-up X Y Jet in a track record time of 1:21.40. Catalina Red’s pedigree is speed oriented. His sire’s progeny haven’t won beyond a mile seventy yards. Damsire Freud, a full brother to Giant’s Causeway, offers some stamina, but Catalina Red’s distaff line is primarily sprinter/miler oriented. He’s a half brother to Whisky Bravo, a stakes placed turf sprinter and Catalina Red’s first five dams all own minor blacktype. The Chad Stewart barn is 0-7 in graded stakes.


OCEAN KNIGHT (Curlin - Ocean Goddess, by Stormy Atlantic) Ocean Knight made short work of a herd of maidens running six furlongs at Aqueduct last month in a sharp 1:11.94, while being geared down. Ocean Knight’s sire two-time Horse of the Year Curlin is making his mark as one of the best studs in America. Ocean Knight’s dam is a half sister to the stakes winning sprinter LIBBY'S HALO  and stakes placed Mister Alimony. Conditioned by Kiaran McLaughlin, Ocean Knight had a strong four furlong breeze at Palm Meadows in his last work.


MY JOHNNY BE GOOD (Colonel John - Im So Fine, by Elusive Quality) flashed his love for Tampa in a big way with a 14 length win over optional claimers in a swift 1:09.33 for six furlongs. He’s Crittenden’s stablemate and appears to be better placed here. There’s little blacktype in My Johnny Be Good’s first two generations, but he has hails from the same family as Grade 1 winning sprinter THE LUMBER GUY. The colt worked a pre-race bullet and should improve in his second start off of a layoff.


ROYAL SON (Tiznow - Mama Nadine, by A.P. Indy) won his maiden last out upon disqualification of the winner. The Todd Pletcher trainee has the pedigree of a late-bloomer and should love Classic distances. Royal Son’s dam MAMA NADINE won a stakes race at one mile seventy yards. Royal Son’s second dam COUNTESS DIANA was a Champion Two Year Old Filly. In five of the last nine years, Todd Pletcher has won the Sam Davis Stakes, including last year with VINCEREMOS.

Long Shots Worth a Look

DIVINING ROD (Tapit - Precious Kitten, by Catienus) won his debut in an off the turf mile contest at Laurel. Next time out against Crittenden, Divining Rod was stuck on the inside and wasn’t able to get a clear run until late. His dam is a multiple Grade 1 winner on the lawn and a full sister to Champion Turf Horse and sire KITTEN’S JOY. A half sister to Precious Kitten bore Champion Two Year Old Filly DREAMING OF ANNA, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G-1) over dirt and the Summer Stakes (G-3) over turf. By the hot sire Tapit, Divining Rod could develop into a versatile, top-class runner.


COOMER (Midshipman - Dixie Satin, by Dynaformer) picked a tough place to make his first start of the year. He won impressively against $50,000 claimers last November at Churchill going 1 1/16 miles. He has a speed over stamina pedigree and there’s some minor blacktype in the second generation of his distaff line. Coomer breezed a pre-race five furlong bullet. I always respect entries from the Maker barn and Leparoux stays on the colt. Could be something here.


CRITTENDEN (Distorted Humor - Calla Lily, by Pulpit) won his last two races at Tampa, including a 2 ¼ length score over Divining Rod last time out. What’s not to like? The Eoin Harty conditioned colt was trounced 17 lengths in his only dirt start. This colt’s future appears to be on the turf, but naturally, when one has an aspiring three year old at this time of year, it never hurts to take a shot in a Derby prep. He’s a half brother to the G-2 stakes placed turf runner Side Road. Crittenden’s dam is multiple stakes placed over the lawn and was unplaced in three starts on dirt. She’s a half sister to Arlington Million (G-1) hero HARDEST CORE. Yes, Crittenden worked a second to last bullet on the dirt, however, a controlled work on dirt cannot emulate race conditions.


BANDAGES (Any Given Saturday - Beauty Is, by Personal Flag) is Catalina Red’s less accomplished stablemate. He won his maiden at Tampa and has two five furlong works under his girth. Four of his six half siblings own blacktype, including the multiple stakes veterans WAYZATA BAY and YOURNOTTHEBOSSOFME. Bandages should enjoy the distance, but his late pace speed figures are poor.


BROTHER BOBO (Kantharos - Private Prom Party, by Private Terms) was a distant sixth when stretching out to a mile against stakes company in the Mucho Macho Man. Freshman sire Kantharos is getting offspring who are showing distance limitations past a mile. Brother Bobo is a half brother to the talented stakes winning sprinter RIBO BOBO and stakes placed sprinter Private Money Game. The trainer/jockey combo of Servis and Saez are 0-10.


G FIVE (Flashy Bull - Fly Don't Drive, by Harlan's Holiday) can’t beat optional claimers at Gulfstream or Gulfstream West. Despite this race being at Tampa, there’s a solid field in the Sam Davis and G Five is outclassed on paper. G Five’s dam is a half to a multiple Grade 3 sprinter and another half sister bore Del Mar Oaks heroine SUMMER SOIREE. G Five hasn’t shown much speed and this seems to be an odd place for the Pletcher trainee.


BEARS PERSONALITY (Awesome Again - Yearly Attitude, by Event of the Year) will be tackling dirt for the first time in his five race career. He needed time to get his act together at Woodbine, but he won his last two starts. There is one blacktype earner in his first three distaff generations. Bears Personality has average to good works at Palm Meadows, but his late pace speed figures are poor. He likes to be up near the pace and will be forced to go wide from his outside post.


Only two of the last ten winners of the Sam Davis Stakes won over the track last time out. Front runners and pace pressers have had the most success in the race. The rail is winning at 17% this meet.




#5 DIVINING ROD – longshot play

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Kentucky Derby Trail – Sham Stakes

KENTUCKY DERBY TRAIL The 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. The well-bred colt finished second to Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby, despite bashing his head against the starting gate so hard he lost two teeth. Sham’s 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. Sham was a superstar in his own right, equaling the track record for 1 1/8 miles in the Santa Anita Derby.

Winners of the two-turn mile event haven’t had much impact on the Kentucky Derby. Since the Grade Three race was first contested in 2001, only two colts have hit the board in both races; Empire Maker finished second in both races and in 2005, Giacomo was third in the Sham before a successful trip in the Derby.

A field of eight colts will contest this year’s edition of the one mile Sham Stakes, the first step onto the 2015 Kentucky Derby Trail for California hopefuls. Derby points will be awarded and the contest is carded as the sixth race.

The kings of California racing, Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer, are noticeably absent. Instead, Peter Miller, the Wesley Ward of California, sends out three prospects, including the likely favorite, Calculator.


The Favorite:

CALCULATOR (In Summation - Back to Basics, by Alphabet Soup) has been a model of consistency and class while chasing American Pharoah in the Del Mar Futurity and Frontrunner Stakes, both G-1 events. Calculator’s unraced dam is a half to the stakes veteran turf sprinter ATTICUS KRISTY, his full sister stakes winner FIERY DANCER and to Lexington Stakes hero DISTORTED REALITY. This is the distaff family of Preakness champ SHACKLEFORD and his Grade 1 winning sister LADY JOANNE. Calculator was scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to a foot injury. However, he’s back in action and worked a pre-race bullet. Despite being a maiden, Calculator is the most accomplished colt in the field.


Surface Switch:

Two colts will try to add their names to the Derby Trail, but first, they must pass the basic test of wanting to run over dirt.

Only two other colts in the race own blacktype placings, both stablemates of Calculator. Neither colt earned their stakes earnings over dirt.

ROCK SHANDY (Lemon Drop Kid - Panthera, by Storm Cat) has made all three starts over the lawn, yet his pedigree is diversified to handle just about any surface. He’s a half to the stakes winning turf mare ANEGADA (by Arch). Rock Shandy dam is a half sister to Hollywood Derby hero and sire BRAHMS, and stakes winner OLYMPIC. Panthera is also a half sister to the hardy, popular La Reina, who won the Tempted Stakes (G-3) at a mile over dirt and was nosed out for the win by eventual Champion Ashado in the 1 1/8 mile Demoiselle as a two year old. Rock Shandy hails from one of the classiest female families around. His second dam QUEENA was 1991 Champion Older Mare. Her half sister TOO CHIC was also a Grade 1 winner. She and her daughters have produced G-1 winner CHIC SHRINE, multiple graded stakes veterans AL KHALI, SERRA LAKE, SOARING EMPIRE, HUNGRY ISLAND, EL PADRINO, SOMALI LEMONADE, and RASTA FARIAN. Rock Shandy fourth dam Remedia is a blue hen.


PAPACOOLPAPACOOL (Temple City - Sainttwok, by Saint Ballado) was part of the blanket finish in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf, finishing third, a bare neck behind the winner. Papacoolpapacool is a half to juvenile stakes placed Dehaven. The gelding’s first crop sire Temple City gets winners over all surfaces and most of Papacoolpapacool’s half siblings are winners over dirt and or mud. There’s some minor blacktype in the third generation of Papacoolpapacool’s pedigree, but overall, this is a modest breeding.


Surface Switch Part Duex:

ST. JOE BAY (Saint Anddan - Dream Ride, by Honor Glide) outclassed maiden claimers by ten lengths over the Santa Anita dirt before switching to Del Mar’s Polytrack to finish third in the Bob Hope Stakes (G-3). He next finished fourth in the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G-3) over the lawn, beaten only two lengths for the whole enchilada and nosed out for third by his stablemate Rock Shandy. St. Joe Bay’s dam is a half sister to the multiple stakes winner sprinter OUTFLANKER. Other than that, there’s no blacktype in the immediate distaff line. St. Joe Bay’s third dam is three-time Champion mare SUSAN’S GIRL. St. Joe Bay has Rasmussen Factor inbreeding (inbred to a blue hen within the first five generations) to WEEKEND SURPRISE through her sons A.P. INDY, the sire of SAINT ANDDAN and A.P. Indy’s half brother HONOR GRADES, sire of HONOR GLIDE. So why is this important to the handicapper? Rasmussen Factor occurs in roughly 4% of the racing population, yet 11% of the stakes winners are inbred to blue hens. Approximately 10% of Grade 1 winners carry this type of inbreeding.


PIONEEROF THE WEST (Pioneerof the Nile - Del Mar Cat, by Forestry) was second over the dirt before winning his maiden on Polytrack. Next out, he bombed in the Eddie Logan on the lawn and he’s turning around in 15 days. The colt is modestly bred with no blacktype winners in his first two generations. Corey Nakatani has had the most success with this colt and will be back on board.


Trying to Step Up:

The remainder of the Sham Stakes is filled with last out maiden winners or colts who were unplaced in other stake races. Six of the last ten Sham Stakes heroes were last out maiden or allowance winners.

ROCKINATTEN (High Cotton - Suite Ten, by Rock Hard Ten) added blinkers and stretched out for his maiden win at Calder…uh, Gulfstream Park West, in his last start. After bolting to an 8 ¾ length victory, the colt was sold and relocated to the barn of Doug O’Neil. There’s no blacktype in his immediate distaff family, however, Rockinatten’s second dam is a half sister to the veteran handicap horse STUDENT COUNCIL.


UNBLUNTED (Sharp Humor - Bright Orange, by Bright Launch) won his maiden at Santa Anita but in his first try against winners over Tapeta in the Gold Rush Stakes, the colt was wide and finished fifth. Like many others in here Unblunted is non-descript. His dam is a half to a minor stakes winner, but overall, Unblunted has a modest distaff line.


HERO TEN ALL (Rock Hard Ten - Silky Smooth, by Mr. Greeley) won his maiden at second asking when stretching out to a mile at Los Al. His dam is a multiple stakes winning turf sprinter/miler and she’s a half sister to Kentucky Cup Classic Stakes hero SHANIKO, who set a new track record for 1 1/8 miles in that Grade 2 event. Hero Ten All’s second dam is a stakes winning half sister to the dam of Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf heroine SHARED ACCOUNT.


Since the inception of the Sham Stakes, all winners have finished fourth or better in their prep race. Nine of the last ten winners won their last start.

There is a very strong speed bias at Santa Anita this meet. 67% of the pace setters have won. No mid-pack runners or closers have been successful. The horse to beat is Calculator.

CALCULATOR is the horse to beat – he has the class, running style and is facing a much softer field. Today could be the day that he finally steps foot in the winner’s circle. ROCKINATTEN is the second favorite, but I’m wary of this guy. His final time in Florida was average and the field of $42K maidens was very suspect. Additionally, O’Neil only wins 6% first time out with his barn. St. Joe Bay breaks from post #1 and should be right there in the mix. HERO TEN ALL has the wrong running style, but he’ll be picking them up late and can ruin somebody’s trifecta. Throw out that last by Pioneerof the West and his speed figures aren’t all that bad. ST. JOE BAY breaks from post #1 and has the running style to be dangerous. If PAPACOOLPAPACOOL handles the dirt, he could surprise them all!


#8 HERO TEN ALL (4-1)


#2 Pioneerof the West – longshot pick (12-1)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

El Kabeir vs. the Rest in Jerome Stakes

KENTUCKY DERBY TRAIL The Jerome Stakes kicks off is the first New York prep race for colts aiming to enter the starting gate in the Kentucky Derby. The Withers, Gotham and Wood Memorial make up the quadrumvirate.

Eight colts will take on the morning line favorite, El Kabeir, who was last seen winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Read his pedigree profile.

Greatest Challenge:

The only colt in the field with blacktype is Nasa (Smarty Jones - Shootforthestars, by Seattle Slew). The bay colt galloped to a 2 ½ length victory in the restricted Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes, a race his sire won. Like the popular 2004 Kentucky Derby champ, Nasa races for the same connections as his sire. Nasa has a quality pedigree. He’s a full brother to the G-1 winning sprinter CENTRALINTELIGENCE; a ¾ brother to My Elusive Star and a half to General Consensus and Golden Rainbow, all stakes placed. Nasa’s unraced dam is a half sister to Super Derby (G-2) champ FANTASTICAT. Their dam LOTTA DANCING (by Alydar) is a graded stakes winner and third dam LOTKA (by Danzig) was a multiple graded stakes winner from a mile to 1 ½ miles. Like El Kabeir, Nasa has won each of his victories on the lead.


Allowance Winners:

Three Jerome Stake’s entrants won at the allowance level last time out.

Mini Cosmo (Unbridled Energy - Eyedontblink, by El Corredor) won his debut, but was nosed out for third by Nasa in his next start. Mini Cosmo came back to beat allowance foes at PARX by 1 ½ lengths. Mini Cosmo has no blacktype earners in his first three generations.


Now We Are Free (First Samurai - Ice Cool Kitty, by Tomorrows Cat) enters with a two-race win streak under his girth. After besting maiden claimers by 1 ½ lengths at 1 1/16 miles, the Michelle Nevin trainee beat allowance foes by a head. Now We Are Free’s dam is a multiple stakes winner from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. There isn’t much blacktype in his family, however, the colt is inbred to the good mare Sand Buggy through full brothers DIXIELAND BAND, First Samurai’s damsire and NORTHROP, Now We Are Free’s third damsire.


Ackeret (Mach Ride - Lady Zieg, by Touch Gold) sandwiched a loss in a listed stakes between his maiden and allowance victories. All three starts were at six furlongs. Ackeret’s dam is a half sister to the turf stakes veteran CLASSIC CAMPAIGN and Ackeret’s second dam is a G-3 stakes veteran over the lawn. Ackert’s owners won the 2013 Jerome with VYJACK.


Getting another chance:

Todd Pletcher sends out two charges who disappointed in the Remsen Stakes, where they finished last and second to last.

Ostrolenka (Musket Man - Pumpkin's Pride, by Louis Quatorze) raced four and five wide in the Remsen and gave up by the half, fading to 32 lengths behind Leave the Light On. He owns victories at the state-bred level. Ostrolenka is a half brother to multiple stakes placed miler Great Gracie Dane (by Royal Academy). We have to go back a few generations to find the class in his distaff line. Third dam is Champion Filly and blue hen QUEEN EMPRESS. She’s the fifth dam of Champion Older Mare JEWEL PRINCESS.

Royal Burgh (Street Sense - Amazed by Grace, by Bowman's Band) for another try for a graded stakes win. After winning his maiden by a neck, Royal Burgh bobbled at the start of the Remsen and was never in the game, finishing 28 lengths behind Leave the Light On. There’s little blacktype in Royal Burgh’s female family, although his dam is a stakes winning sprinter and placed in a grade three race.


Bringing up the field:

General Bellamy (Bellamy Road - Sweet Again, by Awesome Again) found the third time is the charm, winning his maiden by 3 ½ lengths going a mile at Aqueduct. The colt’s dam is an unraced daughter of Alabama Stakes (G-1) winner SWEET SYMPHONY. Bill Mott trained the G-1 winner and also trains her grandson.

Tencendur (Warrior's Reward - Still Secret, by Hennessy) is still a maiden. The son of the top ten Freshman Sire is a half brother to the multiple restricted stakes winner MOTHER RUSSIA.


There are no world beaters here and it looks like a good opportunity for El Kabeir to pick up an easy check and more points towards the Kentucky Derby. However, there’s a lot of speed in here. Nasa, Ostrolenka, Now We Are Free and possibly Mini Cosmo could all vie for the lead.

Nasa may give the graded stakes winner his toughest challenge. Roya Burgh could rebound and Ackeret could get a nice stalking trip.