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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hooh Hah!

Did you take Hooh Why for the upset in the G1 Ashland? Not to toot my own horn, but I did, as I mentioned previously I liked that she had raced well against colts at Woodbine last fall. $50 win payout! Stardom Bound has clearly lost a step, and I’d be shocked if she runs in the G1 Kentucky Oaks—don’t be surprise if there’s an announcement shortly about some physical issue or even a retirement. Ah, what a great young career she had!

As for the Kentucky Derby preps, I’m duly impressed with I Want Revenge, especially after his disastrous start in the G1 Wood Memorial, as Joe Talamo split through a wall of horses late to win going away. The biggest mistake IEAH can make regarding this horse is changing his jockey, as the Kid looks to share a special bond with him. As for his trainer, Milkshake Jeff Mullins, well…it’s another nightmare, isn’t it, coming off Rick Dutrow’s prominent media presence last year? Honestly, it doesn’t aid IEAH’s slimy reputation in that their trainers are, shall we say, “ethically-challenged.”

Imperial Council is definitely not going to the Derby even if he does have enough earnings, according to trainer Shug McGaughey—good call! He looks to need time to mature. Lime Rickey’s dirt experiment was a huge failure—stick to the turf! West Side Bernie had no excuses in finishing a well-beaten second, but his connections will likely continue to the Derby.

Musket Man outperformed his pedigree again, winning the G2 Illinois Derby over Giant Oak and 51-1 bomber His Greatness. Nice to see a cheap ($15k) yearling purchase doing so well, but I just can’t see a son of Yonaguska, out of a Fortunate Prospect mare, win the Kentucky Derby. Oh, barring any injury, he’ll make the field and his connections will enjoy themselves no doubt, but I just can’t see him there among the top three finishers.

The G1 Santa Anita Derby turned out to be fraught with intrigue, as The Pamplemousse was scratched with a reported left front tendon issue. The additional scratches of Cape Truth and Z Day left no early pace, so once again Pioneerof the Nile was not challenged and won in another slow race (1:49.17)—way slower than The Pamplemousse’s victory in the G3 Sham (1:47.86). Chocolate Candy closed nicely for second and Mr. Hot Stuff rounded out the trifecta. I know there are those who think highly of the West Coast contingent, but I’m sorry, I just don’t see it.

At Aqueduct, nice to see Taqarub rebound from his awful performance last out, but he was no match for Capt. Candyman Can in the G3 Bay Shore. It was also sweet to see old-timer Harry Vega up on 49-1 Yano hang on for third; Yano’s dam is the Foolish Pleasure mare Sabreen who was out of one of his last crops, and I’ve always like Vega, not the least because of his association with Xtra Heat. Fabulous Strike is such a trooper, as he stretched out just beyond his best distance and was nipped by Kodiak Kowboy in the G1 Carter.

Finally, it is time for me to truly, once and for all, give up on Tomcito the “Peruvian Mystery Horse.” Bringing him back after an extended layoff in the G3 Skip Away was not ambitious, just plain stupid. I forgave the slooowww workouts thinking that was his style, but obviously this horse just isn’t as good as his hype.


Jessica said...

I don't know that I'd agree Stardom Bound has lost a step -- she was so far back through the first half and had a lot to do coming down a short stretch -- the pace was against her. She did run a little flat near the end, but maybe all she needs is a freshening and a new rider.

Valerie Grash said...

A freshening, for sure. She didn't look all that good last time, and now a second time...

I mean, geez, she's not bad, by any stretch of the imagination. She just doesn't seem like the same horse she was last year. I don't know, maybe I'm being too harsh, 'cause I love her, but the whole IEAH connection has festered a 'love-hate' relationship with her for me.

dana said...

Maybe she's allergic to her new connections, lol!

I thought she looked flat today for sure but last time I thought she only looked a little off her game but proved that she had the will to win. I'd agree that perhaps she needs a freshening.

Over at the horse player's teen party chat line known as twitter, a regular that goes by "bloodstock" who's definitely been around the block was speculating that "she ran like horse who bled". I think her coming up with some kind of ailment would be a plausible explanation. I'm just not ready to concede that she was merely precocious.

Gary said...


I notice you still have RACHEL ALEXANDRA still high on your list (deservingly so). Is Rachel off the trail? I thought to hear she was. Do you believe she'll be reconsidered? Its my thought IEAH wouldn't want her to race against IWR.

the Source of the James said...

"Milkshake Jeff Mullins, well…it’s another nightmare, isn’t it, coming off Rick Dutrow’s prominent media presence last year? Honestly, it doesn’t aid IEAH’s slimy reputation in that their trainers are, shall we say, “ethically-challenged.”

A nightmare for sure. What's he's done is basically ruin what up to now had the makings of a great Kentucky Derby. Even though there's no evidence so far, there will always be questions as to if I Want Revenge is just another miracle of modern chemistry as Big Brown seemed to be.

My heart sank when I saw that IEAH bought into this horse. I figured something like this would happen.


Valerie Grash said...

Gary, my understanding is Rachel Alexandra's connections have not made a final decision, and especially after that facile victory in the Fantasy on Sunday, I can't imagine why not attempt the Derby. The only issue for her might be the physicality of the large field, but, boy, what a talent!

TvNB, as for Jeff Mullins, it just keeps getting worse. Did you see his Gato Go Win was scratched from the G2 Bay Shore after Mullins was caught with a syringe in the detention barn. Talk about stupid! Seriously, in the detention defines all logic. Another trainer, coddled by wealthy successful connections, who believes he is above the rules which apply to everyone else.

Kevin (the Aspiring Horseplayer) said...

I gave out Tomcito once on a podcast as a "horse of intrigue." I know your pain well, although I gave up on him long ago.

Re: Rachel - wouldn't her connections need to pony up about $200,000 at this point in time just to nominate her? I think they go for the Oaks instead. That could come up a very interesting race in it's own right.

Valerie Grash said...

Yep, $200,000...and well worth it.

Why settle for the Oaks? What's the challenge there? It's a guaranteed win, as no filly is in her class right now. She's already scared off G1 Ashland winner Hooh Why, and how many others will follow suit? You know West Point will enter Justwhistledixie, and I haven't heard anything about the Sheikh's Devotee. Stardom Bound isn't moving forward, plus she's never raced on dirt, so much doubt she's go in the Oaks. What a Pear didn't show up in the Ashland; ditto Nan. Just Jenda was a non-factor vs. Rachel in the Fantasy on Sunday, and even my beloved Afleet Deceit could only muster a distant second. Who exactly could challenge her?

As she's got the physical build to take on the boys, now's the time to do so. Sure, there are some decent colts this year, but her speed numbers are right there with theirs. Sorry, but regulating her to the Oaks is the whimpy way to go, IMHO.

dana said...

I'm jazzed to see if Evita Argentina looks like she can take on Rachel Alexandra, she runs tomorrow at Keeneland.

Valerie Grash said...

Me too, Dana! Love those Candy Rides! That said, though, I think Evita has distance limitations that hurt her Oaks chances. About 7 furlongs appears her ideal distance. In the DRF article today, even her trainer John Sadler said he wasn't "totally sold" on her getting the Oaks trip. Still, she's a beauty. I'm also awaiting Sky Diva's return in Saturday's G2 Comely.