Snow, snow and more snow here in the west-central mountains of Pennsylvania—going on nine continuous days of nothing but the white stuff. Over 24 inches piled up on the back deck, so I’m glad to have Fridays off this semester. It looks to be the perfect day to play the ponies on Twinspires, in the comfort of my home library, fuzzy slippers and all. A grown-up snowday!
Looking over the past performances for Friday’s cards, a couple races stick out, beginning with an interesting first-time starter in the second at Aqueduct—Caftan, a 3-year-old filly by Awesome Again, out of G1 Coaching Club American Oaks winner Jilbab who died six months after Caftan’s birth in 2007. I find it surprising, though, that Darley and Kiaran McLaughlin could only get Pablo Fragoso to ride...both Mike Luzzi and Richard Migliore rode her dam, and the Mig is up on Conga Bella, making her first start for Rick Dutrow (usually a good angle). Leading jockey Ramon Dominguez takes the ride on Roman Ruler filly Volare Cantare for Tony Dutrow.
Race 8 at Gulfstream (a mile allowance race) is a real blueblood event, although, sadly, for seeming underachievers. Among its contestants: 4-year-old Colors Flying, first-born son of multiple-G1 and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly champion Storm Flag Flying, whose dam My Flag also won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly and whose second dam Personal Ensign won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at age 4. Wow! Talk about a legacy to live up to—unfortunately, Colors Flying doesn’t look to up to the task. Another runner here is 5-year-old Battle Plan (in only his third lifetime start), son of 1994 G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly victress Flanders, and half-brother to multiple-G1 victress Surfside. He won his last race at Gulfstream impressively, but that was nearly a year ago! Making his 4-year-old debut is Nowhere To Hide, who finished out of the money in last year’s G2 Risen Star, G3 Tampa Bay Derby and G2 Illinois Derby, not to mention the G1 Kentucky Derby. Actually, this son of Vindication has only a maiden victory in 14 starts, but he too is regally-bred: his dam Stirring is a half-sister to the recently-retired G2 winner Serenading, and his second dam Daijin is a full-sister to G1 Belmont winner Touch Gold and half-sister to Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval.
Race 7 at Laurel—a maiden for 4-year-olds and up—features Bionic Man (Unbridled’s Song, out of the Ogygian mare Blushing Ogygian), a half-brother to multiple-G1 winning sprinter Street Boss, and full-brother to G2-placed filly Habiboo. Making his second lifetime start is Smooth Chanter, by War Chant out of the G1-placed Easy Goer mare Smooth Charmer, a full-brother to G1-placed Sea Chanter. Graham Motion sends out the Speightstown colt Sin And The City, out of G3 Delaware Oaks victress Sincerely; he’s a half-brother to G2-placed sprinter Silver Edition.
Some interesting 3-year-olds going 1 mile on turf at Tampa Bay in race 7. Christophe Clement sends out first-time starter Shekomeko Son, by Smart Strike out of the Caerleon mare Summer Solstice, a listed winner in France who is a full-sister to G1-placed Summer Symphony, and a half-sister to G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains’ third-place finisher Gharir, and multiple-G1 French turf victor Act One. Think he will love the turf? Time Trial didn’t show much in his first effort, an 8.5f race taken off the turf at Woodbine, but he is a half-brother to multiple G2-placed turfster Meribel. Michael Zwiesler-trained Hobby has a number of positive angles—getting blinkers and first on grass—but it’s his damside pedigree that interests me: his second dam, G1 Oak Leaf winner Folk Art, is a full-sister to Mashaallah, a multiple-G1 turf victor (Grosser Preis von Baden, Irish St. Leger), and Balinese, whose unraced daughter Grass Skirt produced G1 Travers runner-up Grasshopper and G3 Delta Jackpot winner Turf War. Also in his family is G1 Santa Anita Derby runner-up Easy Grades, FR-G1 Prix Jean Prat victor Local Talent, ENG-G1 Guineas and Queen Elizabeth II stakes winner Mark of Esteem, G1-placed Chimichurri, and 2002 champion Japanese 2-year-old colt Eishin Champ. What I don’t like about Hobby , though, is his losing Rosemary Homeister Jr. who jumps aboard High Aspirations (Powerscourt), a gelding with four nice races last fall, including three on turf.
Hope wherever you are, it’s warm and profitable!