I give away my heart so easily, and when I take a fancy to a horse it’s hard to let go. Consequently, when they start to lose, I keep betting them, race after race, hoping against hope oftentimes that they will regain their previous form. Awesome Chic falls into that category. I fell in love with her last winter at Tampa Bay, placed a Kentucky Oaks Futures wager on her—which looked a brilliant move after her impressive victory in the G3 Florida Oaks—but, alas, the sloppy Churchill surface didn’t suit as she finished well back in the field. Or maybe the Florida Oaks represented the peak of her career, as she’s failed to make an impact in three stakes races since the KY Oaks, including the Restored Hope at Aqueduct on Friday where she finished dead-last. Either way, I still have hope for her—maybe she just prefers warm Florida winters over bleak New York. Her breeding suggests she can run all day (Awesome Again, out of the A.P. Indy mare Trading), even though she is a slight thing. Personally, I think she’d thrive on turf. Just saying...
Sunday’s Gulfstream card features more dear-to-my-heart favorites. In race 5, Barclay Tagg sends out Kristi With a K, half-sister to G1 turf victress Bit of Whimsy, with Edgar Prado aboard for the first time. In race 6, there might be enough early speed for a closer like Treasure Trail—who happens to be the newly-three-year-old half-sister of Zenyatta and Balance. She’s had three nice workouts for Shug McGaughey since arriving in Florida, and John Velazquez stays aboard. This race also features After Thought, a full-sister to once-promising colt Ravel, out of G1-placed A.P. Indy mare Let, and the $1.55 million Keeneland yearling purchase Magical Affair. In race 7, G2-placed Elusive Lady makes her return after nearly nine months break—on turf, with Alan Garcia up, and at 12-1 morning line...ah, how tempting! However, Impressionism looks tough here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Flibberjibit pulled off a big one with Jose Lezcano up. It’s probably unlikely, but it would be interesting to see Belle’s Home (Came Home) win race 7, especially if Hopeless Romantic (Proud Citizen) won race 6—they are three-quarter sisters out of the stakes-winning mare Belle Artiste.
In the G3 Old Hat, Frolic’s Dream has been getting all the press, but get real—the filly to beat here is Elusive Heat, daughter of the incomparable Xtra Heat. It’s going to be a speed duel for sure, with Gemswick Park battling from the far outside, but I’m hoping Kiaran McLaughlin has Elusive Heat ready after the two-month break.
Ever since he hooked up with Calvin Borel, Delightful Kiss has reeled off a series of strong races, including victories in the G3 Turfway Park Fall Championship and G3 All American at Golden Gate, a close-up fourth in the Breeders Cup Marathon, and a stout closing second to Einstein in the G2 Clark. The G3 Hal’s Hope may have looked a bit short for him on paper, but the other speed in the race set it up perfectly for this deep closer to rally from last to first today, paying a sweet $12.40. I love this horse’s style—the longer, the better, and closing from out of the clouds.
And speaking of style—is there a better jockey on the planet than Garrett Gomez? Seriously, this is man is “Gold.” Just watch him on 9-1 Queenofalldiamonds in race 7 at Santa Anita on Saturday—he puts her in the perfect stalking position and times her move flawlessly, giving her a handride that looks like it is carrying her rather than vice versa. Then, with Jibboom in the G3 Monrovia, just when she looks beat, he pulls her into a hole and shoots through. Love Go-Go!