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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Random Thoughts on Pedigree Handicapping for Saturday

Slowly but surely I’m emerging from my post-holiday blahs—the ferocious return of winter on Friday made sitting in front of the computer, analyzing Saturday’s races, preferably to…well, cleaning the house. Here are a few races and horses that caught my attention, particularly due to their pedigrees:

Aqueduct 2 (3yo MSW 6f)
While Rockin Boogie is a very likely winner in his third start, a couple first-time Darley starters of interest. The Distorted Humor homebred colt Original Art is out of a champion Argentinean filly La Galerie (but she hasn’t produced much), while Le Bernardin’s dam La Rosa, winner of the G2 Demoiselle, has already produced G3 Sabin winner Taittinger Rose. Also expect more from Hard Spun gelding Hardened Wildcat—his G1 Matron runner-up dam Wild Snitch has also produced the very nice G3 Bay Shore runner-up Vengeful Wildcat.

Update: Hardened Wildcat ($9.50 win) pulled clear of Rockin Boogie for the win; the Darley duo finished fourth and fifth—without Lasix.

Gulfstream 3 (3yo MSW 7f)
Chad Brown sends out first-time starter Grouse whose dam is a half sister to promising G1-placed Stopshoppingmaria; for Kiaran McLaughlin, the Invasor colt Al Aqsa is also interesting—his G3-placed dam is a half sister to G2 Alcibiades runner-up Galloping Gal, dam of G1 Cash Call Futurity victor Liaison. Other first-time starters: Spring Hill Farm (whose G1-placed dam Colonial Minstrel is a half sister to the dam of G2 Jim Dandy winner A Little Warm) and Bird Tale, a Birdstone colt related to G2 Jefferson Cup victor Inca King. A trainer switch for The Great Gonzo—his half sister is the dam of G1 Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles.

Update: Spring Hill Farm ($3.40 win) wired the field, finishing over 6 lengths ahead of Quick Wit, with first-time starter Grouse ($3.60 place) another 6 lengths back. Al Aqsa (no Lasix) had a very poor start, finishing sixth, followed by Bird Tale and The Great Gonzo.

Laurel 6 (3yo fillies MSW 8f)
Back from England where her juvenile campaign was less than stellar, Proud Pearl makes her dirt debut for Graham Motion—she’s a full sister to the terrific champion Proud Spell. Not sure cutting back will make a difference, but the thus-far-disappointing Hard Spun filly Boudicca finally gets Lasix which may make her a winner.

Update: Proud Pearl ($10.60 win) did her big sister proud, winning over Theatricality; Boudicca faded fast to finish sixth.

Aqueduct 7 (Ruthless Stakes)
While Ramon Dominguez may have chosen G3 Tempted runner-up Perennial Song as his ride, Better Lucky has the pedigree—her second dam is G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Desert Stormer, while her dam Sahara Gold captured the G2 Beaumont. So too does Well Kept whose second dam is another Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion, Safely Kept, and Corderosa whose second dam is G1 Humana Distaff victress Celtic Melody. This looks to be a nice sprint race.

Update: Overwhelming favorite Agave Kiss ran to form, crushing runner-up Well Kept ($6.30 place) who was over a length better than Corderosa ($3.80 show). Better Lucky (again, running without Lasix) finished fifth while Perennial Song was never involved, finishing last.

Gulfstream 7 (3yo MSW 7f)
Pletcher’s Ecabroni is the likely post-time favorite, but I’m curious to see the debut of Arm Force, full brother to G1 Dubai World Cup victor Well Armed. None of his siblings have been precocious, but all five that raced are winners including G1-placed Helsinki and G3 Railbird winner Witty. Nice workouts for Eoin Harty, but probably not this time. The other first-time starter Hunter Jak is a half brother to G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield. However, based on his name alone, I like Old Time Hockey; not only is he by Foolish Pleasure descendent Smarty Jones, but also his dam is a half sister to Scat Daddy. No, his maiden race was not a strong one, and he probably wants longer, but I’m rooting for him.

Update: Ecabroni wired the field (as expected), while Old Time Hockey ($3.40 show) managed third after a less-than-stellar start, and Hunter Jak (87-1!) got up over Arm Force for fourth.

Turfway 7 (3yo fillies MSW 6f)
First-time starter In Lingerie certainly has the pedigree, with her second dam being G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Phone Chatter (this is also the family of G1 Norfolk winner Dixie Chatter); this Empire Maker filly also has a sharp workout leading into this race. Being out of the G3 winner Cat Chat, what feline lover wouldn’t play In Lingerie with Chaotic Cat and The Cat for the trifecta?

Update: The worst-kept secret, In Lingerie ($6.20) wired the field as odds-on favorite. However, Chaotic Cat only managed fourth, while The Cat was dead-last.

Fair Grounds 9 (Marie G. Krantz Memorial H.)
While Cherokee Queen, Pleasantly Blessed and A She's Adorable will likely battle it out again for the victory, I’m intrigued by the trainer switch for Countess Lemonade—and would be pleased as punch if former claimer Juanita hangs on for the win.

Update: Cherokee Queen ($6.20 win) strode past Juanita ($6.20 place) late for the win, with Pleasantly Blessed ($2.60 show) third.