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 Pyro…Pyro, 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 :)