Well, we were looking forward to a fun day at the OTB betting on Aqueduct, but, in advance of a snowstorm, they have cancelled Friday’s card. Therefore, we are turning our attention to Laurel. Without detailed PPs, I am leaning towards the following picks:
Race 2: Sora(Dyn Panell/John Rigattieri combo)
Race 3: Pias Moonlite (Jeremy Rose/Scott Lake combo)
Race 4: She’s Achance (trainer in the money 68%, 30% win)
Race 7: Power of the Porgi (high % jockey/trainer combo, plus recent bullet workout); Criminal Mind (Rose/Lake)
Race 9: Tough Stuff (Rose/Lake); Symbolical (Panell/Rigattieri)
I do have PPs for Laurel Race 6. According to The Weather Channel, looks like there is about 90% chance of rain, and rain through the night…right off the bat, I notice Second Date has done well on off-tracks (3-1-2-0). So too has Honor Student (4-0-2-1) and Kathy’s Escolha (5-2-0-0), although the latter is rather new to Laurel so has not run that track wet, but was impressive in three starts there (2 wins, 1 place). I am throwing out Long Time Gone, despite Mario Pino riding, and recent record—a win last time out, 2 places, and a show that was only a neck out of second. These races were all at 7 furlongs, and she has never gone 1 1/8 mile distance. Long Time Gone is out of Pioneering (see below) whose progeny are nice sprinters, but hardly strong for the route. Still, she has a good record overall at Laurel (9-2-3-2), but no off-track experience. Private Whisper picks up Jeremy Rose, and has battled Long Time Gone frequently, but is coming off a bad showing on January 31, and recent workouts are ho-hum. She appears to have been a turf horse that transferred to dirt only since last December with initial success (1 show, and then a nose win over Long Time Gone), and did run routes on turf with modest results. Pleasant Dora is the M/L long shot, and rightly so, it appears. Last three races (after an 8 month layoff) were routes, but she finished sixth and fourth (twice) by double-digit lengths each time. Moreover, her best recent Beyer was 79, well below Honor Student’s 90. That leaves Second Date, Honor Student, and Kathy’s Escolha. Honor Student, with Jonathan Joyce aboard, is coming off a strong race 1 month ago, with a March 10 workout at 5 furlongs in 1:01.3. This is her fifth race back from a six month layoff, and she has slowly been building back to the distance, from initial 6 furlongs to 1 mile races. It could be her time to blossom. Second Date only ran a 79 last time, again going 1 mile, but finished fifth, nine lengths back. Her best races were two years ago…a long layoff, from December 2005 to November 2006, so this is sixth race back, but she is not improving. The winner looks to be Kathy’s Escolha, who is the 9-5 favorite. Good on off-track, strong recent Beyer figures (88 last time out), and excellent results in building to longer distances (4 wins and 2 places in last 6 races). Plus, I like her breeding, out of Golden Missile (A.P. Indy)-Truly Busted (out of Housebuster), and high % jockey (Ryan Fogelsonger) and trainer (Mark Shuman). Long Time Gone should go out to the lead, but who follows her should be interesting.
I like to bounce around various tracks, though, so in looking over the entries for Friday at Gulfstream, I was surprised to see in Race 7 (an $18,000 claiming race) a familiar name from years ago, Danthebluegrassman.
Flash back to the 2002 Kentucky Derby, when Bob Baffert decided first to enter the Golden Gate Derby winner in the Derby (thus bumping out Windward Passage), and then scratched him the morning of the race due to “muscle spasms.” Hey, Baffert won that year with War Emblem anyway, but what of poor Dan? In June, he won the Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs by 2 ½ lengths. After the Northern Dancer win, Baffert noted that Dan was “a good horse who tends to come up with little ailments to overcome.” In July 2002 he entered the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, only to finish dead-last. He won the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar in August 2003 in Baffert’s stable, but three years later, on the same day and card where Giacomo won the San Diego Handicap, Danthebluegrassman finished dead-last in a one-mile, $40,000 claimer. This 8 year old is still puttering along, with total winnings of over $400,000…why hasn’t he been retired to stud? He’s not a gelding, and his sire Pioneering (Mr. Prospector-Terlingua, out of Secretariat) is doing nicely for himself (77 winners out of 144 runners, including the recently-retired filly Behaving Badly who is being bred to Bernadini this year). I would appreciate any insight, since it appears to buck the trend of lightly racing then retiring well-bred horses. I suspect it might have something to do with that “light ailments” thing Baffert mentioned, since Behaving Badly apparently had similar fault, racing only 13 times between age of 4 and 5.