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.


Picture by Mel & Rick at 
Daily Racing Funnies 
check them out!
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


Picture by Mel & Rick at
 Daily Racing Funnies 
check them out!
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


Daily Racing Funnies said...

Wow, you've got it covered Laurie. I like Vyjack, but will be watching Mr Palmer, and then out west looking forward to Power Broker, he should be on his toes for this!