11/29/2008 11:31AM

Big weekend!

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On to Sunday at Hollywood!

Matriarch - Race 7:
Bobby Frankel's exploits in this race are well-documented, and he has a potent one-two punch in Precious Kitten and Visit.  The former makes the final start of an excellent career, and is the defending Matriarch champion.  She never got on track in 2008 due to nagging quarter-cracks, but this will be the third start of the form cycle, and she has some excuses for her two recent defeats.  At Keeneland, she was on the lead, and those tactics don't seem to please Precious Kitten.  At the Breeders' Cup, she faced the impressive Goldikova and 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville.  While both of those horses saved ground for most of the race, Precious Kitten tracked the early leaders while wide.  Her tactical speed should serve her well in the Matriarch, and it would be nice if she goes out a winner. 
Visit is the Frankel filly with upside.  She ran an interesting race in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare turf as she slipped through along an inviting opening on the rail to grab the lead with a quarter-mile to run.  She was late to change leads, however, and couldn't see out the rest of the trip.  The cutback to a mile should work in her favor, and she should come running late under Garrett Gomez.
Cocoa Beach really hasn't run a bad one against fillies, and she wasn't letting Zenyatta get away from her in the closing portion of the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.  She's proven herself on turf in her native Chile, and her recent swift workouts allay fears of a post-Breeders' Cup bounce.
Selections:  Precious Kitten, Visit

Hollywood Derby - Race 9:
Time for Gio Ponti to get back into the winner's circle.  The talented turf runner was forced to go very wide around the final turn of the Del Mar Derby two back, and that may have cost him the win.  Last time out, he was bottled up for just a bit while Court Vision got a clear run on the outside.  Gio Ponti is reunited with Go-Go for this engagement, and should get enough speed to attack with Muny, Midships, and Cowboy Cal in the lineup. 
Albahri goes out for the newly-reinstated Patrick Biancone, and the French invader shows interesting form.  He actually won a claiming race two starts back, but improved enough to take a listed race over a month later.  He was purchased from the Aga Khan after that race, and has demonstrated ability at this demanding distance. 
Cowboy Cal reportedly bled in the Kentucky Derby, and Todd Pletcher did the right thing in giving this horse time to recuperate.  He ran a solid prep when put up via disqualification in the Bryan Station at Keeneland, and has the speed to be a factor from the opening bell.
Selections:  Gio Ponti, Albahri

More importantly, who do you fancy this weekend?  I'd like to know.

Back Monday with a weekend recap, stakes Beyers, and poster questions:

Take care,

Dan

SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Riley ...let me also offer my Congatulations to you & your Dad, and the connections of Court Vision. I just caught up on race replays (courtesy of Calracing.com) and saw what a great effort he gave. He loves the Turf! Continued Good Luck! SR Vegas
Steve T. More than 1 year ago
In doing the post-mortem on yesterday's races at Hollywood I came across an interesting set of fractions for the winner Gayego that really describe exactly what happened in the race: 1/4 21.91 1/2 22.28 3/4 23.26 Fin 5.98 It says that Smith took him to the front, he relaxed and let them mess around behind him and then blew them out with a sub 6 second last 1/2 furlong. It was a track record and one tick off of the world record (1:13 flat). With all of the retirements in the sprint world, this one could be the best sprinter out there for 2009. My contention has always been that the best sprinters out there can win (or be effective) at 1 1/16 or 1/18 so they have the leg to be able to accelerate easily in that last (Midnight Lute, Cherokee Run, Artax). Looks like Gayego is another in that mold. Now here's to hoping that they don't go brain dead and bypass the Malibu for some 9F race...
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
jim tully I liked your post. I also agree late comers will arrive after this talk is over...(another Curlin anyone?) and Big Brown had at this time last year only run on Turf, no reason to think dirt was in HIS future..but still, it's fun to be excited about any 2 yo who shows potential and can win like Old Fashioned has. So let's have FUN with it! I don't think we have any Nostradamus predictions here, only our best thoughts & opinions. I guess only time will tell. SR Vegas
Riley More than 1 year ago
Alan, cayman, Thanks so much! Court Vision ran an unbelievable race. We were really worried about the very soft middle fractions while we were dead last but once he switched leads at the eighth pole, he exploded home! I think that race included many of the top horses for next years Turf division and to beat them like he did was pretty encouraging. Plus we also have polytrack as an option with him. Thanks again! -Riley
tony kelso More than 1 year ago
If anyone noticed, Old Fashioned went 12.1 in the last furlong in the Remsen. If he can pass horses he's definitely a threat for the Derby and the Preakness. He seems too brilliant to win the Belmont, but there is time.
jim tully More than 1 year ago
Why do people insist on talking Derby contenders in November? It is too early, for Godsakes. At this time last year here's what this year's top 3 had done--Big Brown had only won his maiden, Eight Belles hadn't broken her maiden and Dennis of Cork had also only broken his maiden. I love the Derby as much as anyone but for cryin' out loud, it's still five months away. We all know that the "now" horses will be caught by the late bloomers. It happens every year. Let's just relax and enjoy the Holidays. I really don't care to read all the back and forth and nitpicking that will go on over the merits of Old Fashioned's fourth damsire's stamina influence. That's sarcasm--for those of you who know it off the top of your head, I don't want to know.
vicstu More than 1 year ago
Here is a YouTube video of the Remsen and Old Fashioned for those who did not get a chance to see it or who want to see it again. Follow the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmIqmMRtI-U
vicstu More than 1 year ago
Tinky, I understand your point about Jones' comment. However, if you did not read all of his comments at the Fox Hill Farms website, its easy to take his comment in a vacuum and dismiss it. I agree 100 percent with you regarding pace. When Jones was talking about 10 furlongs, he was saying that the horse (Old Fashioned) did not need the lead, and is more comfortable relaxing off of a faster pace. However, Ramon alertly noted that the track was holding for speed, so the strategy going in was to go straight to the lead and relax. The horse was never really asked for his run until he lugged in right past the 1/8 pole. And even then it was 1 or 2 taps on the horse's left side. I agree the comment standing on its on is pretty much misleading (and I should of elaborated). However, my posts are long enough as is. As is always the case here at Dan's FormBlog, some astute or alert horseplayer or horse person such as yourself (someone who has an insider's view of the industry) will make a poster qualify each remark that seems specious. And I respect that. I do not mind qualifying it. It is always a stretch to think every horse that gets 9 panels will get 10 (remember Any Given Saturday, who was very good between 8-9 furlongs?). Yet, these races do not exist in a vacuum. More and more jockeys do not challenge the speed regardless of how slow the pace is. You yourself have acknowledged this. However, the winner of the Remsen usually makes it to the Derby. Its a pretty stout indicator that a horse will at least factor as a 3 year old (although this year's field was rather green, as noted by S. Crist on his blog). All things being equal, if OF was allowed to go 1/2 a mile in 49 and change, he would have beaten that bunch no matter how long they were going. There were a couple of others in that race that may emerge as Derby threats (time will tell). But, OF was much the best. I believe the only horse to win the Remsen and not make it to the Derby starting gate in the past 5 runnings was Porter's own Rockport Harbor (injury). Of course, the jockey said he thought that the horse would do even better with more ground, that he was full of run during the gallop out and had to be throttled down. Of course, some of that may be due to being under a hold for much of the race. If OF gets caught in a speed duel, he may well not get 10 panels. But, again, as Jones said, if the race shapes up with alot of speed, OF will not go to the lead and is tactical. Its been my (amateur) experience that when a horse has shown he can win on the front end or off the pace ("can pretty much make his own race") and has shown both speed and an ability to relax, that horse has at least a 50-50 shot to be competitive jumping from 9 to 10 furlongs. Think Big Brown. Of course, if the horse cannot relax either on or off the lead, the Derby becomes like a greyhound race, if he gets near the lead by the 1st turn, he has a chance. Think Bellamy Road. That was what made the comparisons between BB and BR last year pre-Derby absurd: different situational runners. I understand that Porter has come close two years in a row and tragically lost Eight Belles last year. But, both of those horses (in hindsight) were extremely competetive at 10 panels, clearing the remaining field by 5-6 lengths in finishing second each time they ran at that distance in grade 1 races. This despite the fact that they both were probably better at 9 furlongs, or even 8. But, the fact remains that there are very few horses bred today who are bred to excel at 10 furlongs or more. Tinky, you noted yourself that this phenomena is common in today's game, and opined that a serious speed horse is always a threat at distances beyond their pedigree if they can relax and slow the pace. I recall War Emblem was allowed to do just that in the Derby and the Preakness, and he won both on the front end. It happens as often as the speed duel does in the Kentucky Derby. Despite the mad charge to the 1st turn, the horse who gets their first normally slows it down in the backstretch. Unless they are the all-out types like Old Tr., Keyed Entry or Spanish Chestnut. Alot can happen between now and the Derby. And horses sometimes peak early (like Wise Answer at Calder). But OF is still green. I think he has upside. And I think, but wlll not assure it at this juncture, that the horse will go 10 panels. Thanks for bringing his (Jones')statement up so I could clarify things. You have to admit, Tinky, that Jones has done a very good job the last 2 years of getting his horses ready to run the first Saturday in May (whether or not they could get 10 panels or belonged in another race at another distance). Remember, he does not have the final say on where his horses go: Porter and FHF does. Given Larry Jones' track record, IF OF can stay healthy by next year in May, I like that colt's chances to factor heavily in the Kentucky Derby. Remember where you heard it first.
Jeff More than 1 year ago
"The point being that when a horse controls the pace, especially a slow pace on a speed track, as was the case in the Remsen, the performance not only offers little insight into the probability that the horse in question will stay 10 furlongs, but in fact is often misleading in that regard! So while I do believe that OF is nice horse, and don't rule out the possibility that he will be competitive in the Derby, there was nothing about his performance in the Remsen which suggested that he has the stamina to stay 10 furlongs. Ironically, had he been tested through fast early fractions, yet been able to finish well enough to finish second (assuming a good final time), I would have been more encouraged about his stamina than I am in the wake of his dominant, everything-his-own-way victory." Totally agree. The pace was ridiculous. I was wondering what the other Jocks were doing. Surely another horse in that race could have run better than 1:14 for 6F. That race only says bet AGAINST (OF) in the next race if the pace scenario is promising, as the public will wildly overbet him, IMO.
never_bend More than 1 year ago
Dan,can you print Wanderin' Boys PP's.He was a neat old horse that had to overcome a lot before he even made it to the races