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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Beloved Friends Running Again

X Rated Cat steps up to allowance company on Thursday, when he takes on older competition at Charles Town in race 7. He worked a bullet 3f (34:80) at Laurel five days ago for trainer Tim Salzman, and looks very well placed with these.

My thanks to the commenter who noted that Southwestern Heat reportedly changed hands this spring and is no longer owned by Southcoast Stables (thus the trainer change); however, the nominating past performances for the Boyes still listed Southcoast as owner, so I’m confused. Regardless, I’m anxiously awaiting his 2008 debut (pronounced in Aussieland as “day-boo”). He worked a bullet 5f (1.00:93) at Philly Park on Sunday. UPDATE: Digging around on the various tracks’ websites, I found Southwestern Heat is nominated to the Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial Stakes at Delaware on June 21—we’ll see if he goes there, possibly against Fabulous Strike!

G3 Florida Oaks winner Awesome Chic (who disappointed in the G1 KY Oaks) returns on this weekend in the non-graded $175K Susan’s Girl at Delaware. Her only graded-competitor is Sherine who won the G2 Comely in April, but was well-beaten in the G2 Black-Eyed Susan on Preakness day. Larry Jones sends out for Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms an allowance winner, Eagle’s Song, who finished second behind Graham Motion’s African Violet in the Polly’s Jet last out (she’s in here too). The most intriguing entry is Kiaran McLaughlin’s Never Retreat, a $410K Fasig-Tipton yearling purchase who is undefeated in two starts in New York, but has never gone past 6.5 furlongs.

Also at Delaware on Saturday, Unbridled Belle returns in the G3 Obeah Stakes; she hasn’t been seen on track since the G1 BC Distaff last October when she finished fifth. It appears she’s on the same schedule as last year where she began her 4-year-old campaign finishing second in the Obeah, then won the G2 Delaware Handicap before finishing second to Miss Shop in the G1 Personal Ensign, and then defeated Indian Vale and Ginger Punch in the G1 Beldame. Her chief competition looks to be Lemon Drop Mom who comes in off demolishing a non-graded stakes field at Delaware on May 17. Before that, however, Lemon Drop Mom finished well back in fourth in the G1 Apple Blossom behind Zenyatta, Brownie Points and Ginger Punch—all next-time-out winners. Lexi Star is the obvious third choice after her second-place finish to Buy the Barrel in the G2 DuPont Distaff, but I think Larry Jones may surprise here with his entry Best Vow who spent most of last year as a maiden, but has matured into a promising stakes-competitor. Without her regular rider, Gabriel Saez, she dueled with Buy the Barrel before finishing second in the Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn in April, and then came back to win over AOC company on May 25 at her home track.

Oh, and I can’t forget Unbridled Belle’s little half-brother. Coming from last place in the backstretch, Stones River kicked home under a handride for a blowout 9-length victory in an allowance race at Delaware on Sunday. It was beautiful! By the way, he's owned by Two Bucks Stable, managed by Jim Squires of The Rail fame.

Remember Summer Doldrums, last year’s winner of the Whirlaway and G3 Colonial Turf Cup? He was one of my pre-Derby favorites, but fared better after switching to turf. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had much luck this year, finishing way back last out in the Volponi Stakes at Belmont. However, Richard Violette tried him on Tapeta at Presque Isle last Sunday and he crushed—by 12 lengths—an allowance optional claiming field. Of course, his three competitors were all 7-year-olds, two of which had not raced yet this year (Guardianofthenorth and Jungle Fighter) and the other (Cold War) finished dead-last, nearly 18 lengths behind the winner, in a $50K claimer at PID in mid-May. I wish I had access to bet Presque Isle—an easy (yes, chalky) $3.60 win.

I asked this question last summer, and it seems as appropriate now as then… how many more prominent three-year-olds formerly on the Triple Crown dirt trail will migrate to turf? On Sunday at Belmont, Court Vision had his second turf work, going 5f in 1.04:27 (9/13). According to IEAH's webpage, Court Vision may go in the G3 Colonial Turf Cup on June 21, and/or the G2 Jim Dandy on July 27. Damn, the Colonial Turf Cup is popular! There are 62 nominations, for a 3-year-old turf race, in America...go figure. Former dirt contenders with no previous turf experience on the list: G2 Lexington winner Behindatthebar, G3 Tampa Bay Derby winner Big Truck, G2 Ohio Derby runner-up Cherokee Artist, Count Fleet winner Giant Moon, G1 Blue Grass victor Monba, and Barbaro Stakes winner Roman Emperor, not to mention Icabad Crane, Tale of Ekati, Kentucky Bear, Racecar Rhapsody, Ready's Echo, and Stevil.