Thursday, in the muddy fifth at Laurel, Daguerreotype ($3.60) took the lead at the head of the stretch to easily win over Rutledge Storm ($3.00 place) and Safe Journey ($2.80 show). The $2 trifecta paid a paltry $27.60. Joyful scratched; Desert Yield got a good start, nicely placed along the rail throughout, but couldn’t muster quite enough to sustain throughout and finished seventh.
Friday, in race 8 at Fair Grounds, Stones River (after trailing through most of the early going) did get up late for fifth; I’ll definitely keep my eye out for her next start. On the other hand, Empiricism (the longest shot in the field at nearly 53-1) faded badly, finishing ninth in a 10-horse field. The Five Star Day filly Iron Works Pike ($5.40) easily won, with Steve Asmussen’s Clemens ($4.60) getting up for second and early leader Grasmere Park ($3.00) fading for third.
Going into Saturday’s races, Steve Asmussen now holds a two-win lead over Scott Lake—479 to 477—in the leading trainer category. Then again, both of them have had twice as many starters as the next level of mega-trainers (Pletcher, Contessa, O’Neill, Baird, etc.) and four times as many starters as quality trainers like Tom Amoss, Graham Motion, Bobby Frankel and Kiaran McLaughlin. So pardon me if I don’t want either Asmussen or Lake near any horse I would own. However, Asmussen’s assistant Scott Blasi has a helluva eye for horseflesh—congratulations to his Golden Hare who won his 14th race of 2007 at Fair Grounds on Friday. Talk about a brilliant claim!
A huge payout in Friday’s third race at Aqueduct, as Karakorum Roulette ($74.50 win), Ambidaxtrous ($13.00 place), Sounds Tacky ($12.60 show) and Phil Cat filled out a $2.00 superfecta that paid nearly half a million dollars! $472,186 to be exact…wow!
I don’t know about fantastic payouts, but let’s take a stab at four of Saturday’s more interesting races:
In the Furl Sail Handicap at Fair Grounds, I like Autobahn Girl who, under Malcolm Pierce, took to the turf well in winning her last outing (the Pago Hop Stakes). Steve Asmussen and Shaun Bridgmohan hook up with My Three Sisters who may not be quite able to get 8.5 furlongs, but should be among the top three. Larry Jones has two viable contenders: Sweetdownthelane (who finished out of the money only once in eight tries this year and that was in the G3 Kentucky Cup Distaff Stakes) and Shytoe Lafeet who likewise has good results this year—and on turf. I'll take the latter on top.
At Santa Anita, the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for two-year-old fillies looks to be Spring Awakening and Garrett Gomez’s race to lose. Treadmill won the CTBA Stakes at Del Mar in July, but was pulled up and vanned off in the G1 Del Mar Debutante in early September; a series of excellent works indicates she’s ready for a comeback with Corey Nakatani up. Onebadkitty has been ultra-consistent in her races this year, and two sharp works say this daughter of Street Cry is ready for these. For some odd reason, though, I'm going to go with Testify to Love and Lovehi to beat out Onebadkitty.
In the Eddie Logan, Manningtoharrison has nice long works leading to this and was just beaten late after being bumped last out his speed hasn’t quite been up to others in here, but appears to be improving. Ghetto did well enough in England this year, and has four nice works at Hollywood leading to this start. Southwest has late speed and should be moving forward to the end (hopefully to the win!).
In the G1 La Brea, I’m terribly disappointed that Dawn After Dawn is scratched. Dearest Trickski will attempt the transition from claimer to stakes winner, and if that could happen anywhere it seems tailor-made for Santa Anita with its new Cushion track (where G1s aren’t always won by G1-quality runners). Ashley’s Kitty has three good races against older since August 1 (she also won the G3 Railbird earlier this year), and looks very tough here. My top choice is Swiss Diva, who last out finished just a head behind Dawn After Dawn in 6.5 furlong event at Hollywood; she’s got lots of back-class, having pressured Baroness Thatcher early before dropping back slightly as Rags to Riches powered past on the outside to win the G1 Las Virgenes.