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Monday, January 24, 2011

Guilty as Charged

I admit I’m as guilty as the next person of focusing on 3-year-old races this time of year. Perhaps it’s the thrill of the unknown, of discovering the “next big thing”—and being able to brag about it after-the-fact. That’s why I also love when the juvenile races begin. It’s all about reading pedigrees, connections, workouts, visual impressions and so on. An intellectual game.

With that in mind, a couple upcoming races of interest, beginning on Wednesday with race 7 at Gulfstream. In this maiden special weight for 3yo fillies going 6 furlongs, Mark Casse sends out first-time starter Vuemont, a daughter of A.P. Indy out of G1-placed Pico Teneriffe, which makes her a full-sister to two-time Sovereign award winner Marchfield—a pedigree that suggests she wants much more than six furlongs, and maybe even turf. I’ll be curious as to how much money she takes pre-race. Perhaps more suited for sprinting is Veloce Canzone, full-sister to G2 Woody Stephens winner Songster; interestingly, he won his maiden effort at Gulfstream, in late January of his 3-year-old year, going seven furlongs. With a seven-pound bug boy up for Patrick Biancone, I’ll give her a big chance. Jason Servis teams up with Jose Lezcano on Bay Head Beauty, a daughter of Johannesburg whose unraced dam is a half-sister to G1-placed sprinter Diabolical. Bay Head Beauty’s half-sister Chagall not only won her maiden effort sprinting, but just missed winning the G3 Debutante next out. Dale Romans’ first-time starter Claire’s Song (out of G1-placed Chimichurri) is a full-sister to stakes-placed Christina’s World and half-sister to Loving Vindication, both of whom won second-up.

UPDATE: Hope you got a piece of Veloce Canzone in the 7th at Gulfstream—at 10-1, her win in the slop over even money favorite Priceless Design paid $22.60! Bay City Beauty was fourth, while Claire’s Song scratched. Vuemont was never involved.

Wednesday’s Race 3 at Aqueduct is an allowance optional claimer for 3yo fillies going 1 mile, 70 yards. Poor Le Mi Geaux! Last year’s G3 Schuylerville winner is in for a $75k tag here for Rick Dutrow Jr., who also sends out Ruthless runner-up Status Pending, with Eclipse award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez aboard. The latter will likely battle for favoritism with Moonlit Malibu if that one can improve upon her runner-up finish behind Dance Quietly in the Busanda. The one that interests me most, though, is Darley’s It’s Tricky, a Mineshaft filly who broke her maiden at first-asking going 6 furlongs. The extra distance should not be an issue, as her dam Catboat was a G3 winner going 9 furlongs.

UPDATE: Lots of folks got aboard with It’s Tricky in race 3 at Aqueduct, which she rewarded with a facile win ($3.40). Buster’s Ready was second followed by Le Mi Geaux. The others finished well back.

On Thursday at the Fair Grounds, race 8 is a maiden special weight for 3-year-olds going 6 furlongs. Trainer Neil Howard sends out first-time starter Sports Day who, at $320k, is the second-priciest colt in this field. This son of Tiznow must have impressed with his physical appearance because there’s not that much in his pedigree to warrant such a price. However, at $400k, one can readily see why Ghost Is Clear brought his price; by Ghostzapper, this colt is out of Tamweel, runner-up to Azeri in the G1 Spinster before finishing fourth in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Last out he finished behind recent LeComte winner Wilkinson; before that, he finished second behind Black N Beauty who impressively won a Gulfstream allowance race next out. Nice form. That said, I like Rescue Financing here, making the switch from synthetic to dirt. Last raced in September, he’s put in some outstanding works at Fair Grounds since December for trainer Tom Amoss; his unraced dam Lullaby is a full-sister to G2 Lexington runner-up Griffinite. Also of interest is The Freak who didn’t take to the soft turf last out, so returns to dirt here. At least he’s already made back his $2k price at the 2009 September Keeneland Yearling sale! His fourth dam is the great champion Chris Evert, and close-up his family include G1 Blue Grass winner Dominican, so I can’t imagine why he went so cheap. In his first effort last July he finished second to Maybesomaybenot who next out won the G2 Sanford at Saratoga, so it would be nice for him to get back on track here. At this distance, Quarry of Gold might also be worthy of a win first-out, being by Seeking The Gold, out of the G1-placed sprinter Spring Meadow (she’s produced all winners thus far, and each of them just missed winning first-out).

UPDATE: That Wilkinson win in the LeComte just got stronger, as Ghost Is Clear ($5.80 win) and Rescue Financing ($6.20 place) fleshed out a decent $34.60 exacta. The Freak finished fourth, behind the favorite Saracen (who I totally missed looking at).

Given the multi-surface talents of Kathmanblu, I’m not ignoring turf routes for 3-year-olds this time of the year, so Race 6 at Gulfstream on Thursday looks intriguing, with 12 maiden fillies going 9 furlongs for the first time. Gem Mint (Johar) is well-bred for turf; her Theatrical dam has also produced G1 turf winner Karelian, as well as G2-placed turfster Colgan’s Chip. However, both of those found their greatest success at a mile, so the distance is a bit of a concern. Ms Silver Oak has strong late pace numbers, and just missed in both her previous two efforts, both on turf. Todd Pletcher sends out 2 entrants: Wertheimer and Frere’s first-time starter Skating (whose damside features the mare Cosmah 4 x 4—her son Halo with her Round Table daughter La Dame du Lac present), and the Aragon filly High Strider, a half-sister to 2 winners including French G3-placed Silver Black. Still, my guts says there’s some distance limitations with both of them. Flying Vision has good form against winners, including Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Filly runner-up Winter Memories; she also a half-sister to 2009 BC Juvenile Turf Filly winner Tapitsfly. Kent Desormeaux climbs aboard for Dale Romans. The first-time starter that really excites me is Lemon Drop On Top, as she is closely related to the great Citronnade, her dam’s half-sister; both are (obviously) by Lemon Drop Kid. This is also the family of turfster Twilight Meteor who recently returned from retirement with a convincing victory in the G3 Tropical Turf Handicap. It’s also hard to discount Christophe Clement’s firster Mystical Star, as Ghostzapper do well first-up on turf. She also has a helluva distance pedigree, with her second dam being G2 Apple Blossom winner Degenerate Gal. If this race is taken off the turf, MTO entry Nicky’s Way looks likely, having run in the money in all three of her previous route races, including just missing by a neck to next-out Busanda victress Dance Quietly.

UPDATE: Not many went with first-timer 15-1 Mystical Star, who paid a whopping $32.80 win. 6-5 Ms Silver Oak fleshed out a $2 exacta that paid $93.20. Late-running High on Kitten ($5.60 show) just beat out Gem Mint, while Lemon Drop On Top was a HUGE disappointment, never in contention and finishing dead-last. Both Pletcher runners were scratched due to quarantine issues at Palm Meadows.


Matt Alhaarth said...

I'm a sucker for playing the 3 year old races too - I love to be able to pick out a horse to make considerable improvement on its juvenile performances. I love maiden races. My head says steer clear but I'm always drawn to them.