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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Saturday Wrapup

Well, Michael Matz kept Visionaire in the G3 Gotham, and what a tremendous move! Never having run on an off-track, he closed out of the fog on the sloppy-sealed Aqueduct dirt to nose out Texas Wildcatter for the win. Fan-damn-tastic! Longshot Larry’s Revenge got third, while Roman Emperor rounded out the superfecta.

In the G3 El Camino Real Derby there was an upset but not the one I foresaw. The longest shot in the field, Autism Awareness, won and paid $126. He’s out of the most obscure of obscure stallions—Tannersmyman, who won a whopping $99,500 with four career victories in nine races including his only stakes-win, the James F. Lyttle Memorial Handicap at Santa Rosa. He stands for $2,500 this year at Woodbridge Farm in Oakdale, California. Nikki’sgoldensteed battled with Tres Borrachos and Pleasure Grounds early on, but coming down the stretch, Autism Awareness blew by them. The Toddster’s Behindatthebar finished a non-threatening fifth and favorite Coast Guard showed nothing, beating only 1 horse.

At the Fair Grounds, the G2 New Orleans Handicap was quite exciting, probably the best race of the day, with Grasshopper and Circular Quay battling one another down the stretch. I admit to rooting for Grasshopper but, at odds-on, I bet against him—and won with Circular Quay. I liked the fact that not only had CQ won over this track last year in the Louisiana Derby, but also that Garrett Gomez took him over Magna Graduate for Todd Pletcher. Hopefully this is a sign of quality older horse racing this year as the "youngsters" step up their game.

Unfortunately, Zanjero's baby sister Acacia couldn’t make a dent on Indian Blessing and Proud Spell in the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks, but Proud Spell impressively defeated her arch-rival, giving Indian Blessing her first defeat in six tries.

And then there’s PyroPyro, Pyro, Pyro (said in the same tone as "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" for you Brady Bunch fans). Did I mention how tired I am of hearing Pyro hype? Oh well, he won the damn G2 Louisiana Derby (so too did Circular Quay last year, and we all know how well he did come the first Saturday in May). Tale of Ekati disappointed, finishing in sixth, but I’m willing give him one bad race off the long break. Ditto Majestic Warrior coming back off a five month injury layoff. Otherwise, there wasn’t one good horse in this race. Really, let’s look at…Stevil is a maiden winner in his first stakes race. J Be K (who I like) had never gone beyond 6 furlongs and this was his first stakes race. Unbridled Vicar’s fourth place showing in the G3 Risen Star isn’t exactly flattered by his last place finish here. Blackberry Road has always been over-hyped with only one (maiden) win in 9 tries. Yankee Bravo has run on turf and Tapeta, but never on dirt. I’m sorry, but am I the only one who is still not convinced about Pyro?

And did anyone foresee My Pal Charlie hanging in for second? Obviously not, as he went off at 60-1. I take that back—the annoying Jessica Pacheco reminded us afterward that he is a full-brother to Bwana Charlie (whose best finish was a victory in the G2 Amsterdam at 6f, so I’m not sure why I should be so impressed); he’s also a half-brother to Bwana Bull, who won last year’s G3 El Camino Real Derby (again, I’m not impressed). All in all, a disappointing race in my humble opinion, with a slow pace and not much else to recommend it.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little cranky. After hitting the first two legs of the Magna 5 (Liza Lu in Laurel 10, and Judge Gallivan in Santa Anita 4), Hostess disappointed me in the ninth at Gulfstream. Then I got Seeking Answers in the fifth at Santa Anita, only to have Coach Ryan totally fail me in the finale at Gulfstream. However, I did collect a nice $23.80 win bet on Danceroftherealm in the Bienville at Fair Grounds, and $8.80 when Moujane won the eighth at Santa Anita (a full-sister to G2 Del Mar Handicap winner Leprechaun Kid, she’s really coming into her own under Rafael Becerra.)

Thank God there's Sunday racing at Aqueduct! Maybe I'll hit the Australian cards tonight too :)


dana said...

That's funny, I thought the same thing about Visionaire that you thought about Pyro, Pyro Pyro (I'm gonna hear Jan Brady in my head every time I read about Pyro now!)... who'd he beat?

I thought the New Orleans handicap was the best race of the day too... so great to see Circular Quay back on form!

Nick said...

If it's any consolation, he's my favorite at the moment, and whichever horse is my favorite come derby day tends to throw in a clunker and never amount to much ever

John said...

You got me started on those Australian cards at night, although I haven't got some of the terminology down yet. They use funny words down under.

Yet the whole experience beats simulcasting from Penn National.

Trikey said...

Hey, hey, don't have to be impressed by Pyro but he is very tractable and he ran a different race than the Risen Star. But you're right he only beat Tale of Ekati, G2 winner and G2 place...first race back, not quite as impressive as Pyro's first race back, Majestic Warrion G1 winner (first race back ditto)and the record holder for 5 1/2 at Saratoga and of course that fan damntastic Visionaire that Matz sent to the Gotham to AVOID running against Pyro in the LA Derby.

race said...

Val--Congrats on Danceroftherealm, that happens to put you in the positive on the public handicapper, no small feat!!! I also agree with you on Pyro. I'm really getting tired of the second coming of (put whatever horse you want)---The Girls ran a faster time the same day, and unless they give you Roses for the way you look, he's still looking at the back side of War Pass. Now the "NEW" hot horse is "Big Brown" who won imprissively at Gulfstream, and broke his maiden at Saratoga. Hey who knows, as long as all the "Hype" horses take money at the windows, and push my odds up I'm for it. As long as no one tells War Pass that he doesn't have the Breeding to go long, I think he'll be alright.--race

Valerie said...

Thanks, Harry! But once again I also had winners picked in second place in the contest: Proudinsky and Ariege. Woulduva, coulduva, shoulduva...I know :) I really thought Fracas was going to pull an upset; I see you thought so too.

I'm on the fence with War Pass. He's a monster, no doubt, but out of Cherokee Run? That's tough to ignore. But, man, there's some nice dam bloodlines...Hoist the Flag, Bold Ruler, Count Fleet, Nashua. And you can't ignore Blushing Groom who could run all day.

Becky said...

I too would be sick and tired of the Pyro hype, but since I liked him last year, I instead look at the admittedly excessive fawning as vindication.