03/11/2012 11:10AM

Creative Cause, Bodemeister, and Other Saturday Happenings

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Saturday stakes thoughts:

There was much to like about both Creative Cause’s victory and Bodemeister’s runner up performance in the San Felipe. Creative Cause had to go four to five wide on the far turn, and you would have to think his win margin would have been appreciably larger than the three-quarters of a length it was had he spent as much time in the stretch tending to business as he did gawking at the grandstand. As for Bodemeister, he did the dirty work pressing the early pace. Okay, so the pace wasn’t all that fast. But pressing the pace is still doing the dirty work. Midnight Transfer also ran creditably finishing third after being much farther back early than expected, although he clearly didn’t stay in the final furlong.

I’ll say right up front that I am not crazy about the Tampa 3-year-olds. It is clear, though, that a better post position (he broke from the one hole), and the addition of blinkers certainly played big roles in Prospective winning the Tampa Bay Derby, especially the blinkers. Prospective was in the game earlier, and he made his move earlier, both classic effects of blinkers on. Still, you have to wonder how strong this race could have possibly been when Golden Ticket, coming off an off-the-turf maiden win over a short field in the sixth start of his career, finished second, less than a length shy of taking it all. As for favored Spring Hill Farm, as expected, he did not get the perfect trip he received in his first two starts, and he struggled home fourth.

One other thought about the Tampa Bay Derby: I do understand the reasons given for Take Charge Indy being scratched. Having to break from post 10 and run over a Tampa main track that can be tricky for horses who have never raced on it before is not ideal. But sitting out the Tampa Bay Derby in favor of the Florida Derby, in which you will have to face Union Rags, and maybe El Padrino, and maybe Alpha, too, and having a race like that now being your only opportunity to collect the graded earnings you need to get into the Kentucky Derby … well, it makes me wonder. All I know is, if Take Charge Indy was capable Saturday of coming close to duplicating his second to El Padrino in his first start this year, he would have won the Tampa Bay Derby by open lengths.

With the way Mucho Macho Man cruised up to Tackleberry late on the far turn in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, I thought I was going to have to pull out the “monster” label. Tackleberry was making his first start in almost 10 months, and Jackson Bend, the other big player in the race, was not firing. It looked for a moment that Mucho Macho Man was going to blow this race wide open. It didn’t happen. Some credit should go to Tackleberry, who was very game off the long layoff. But while Mucho Macho Man’s win was good, it wasn’t as big as it looked like it was going to be.

Zagora just oozes class, and she has an enormous brush in her. She showed both again winning the Hillsborough.

I wish I could be more optimistic about Ever So Lucky’s third, beaten seven lengths as the 6-5 favorite, in the Swale Stakes, but I can’t.

It might be time to take Alternation a little more seriously in the handicap division. Yes, the speedy Tapizar was taken in hand and conceded the early lead to him in the Razorback, a lead that Alternation never relinquished. But when a stone-cold closer like Alternation wins with a running style that had previously been completely alien to him, it’s noteworthy, and a very good sign.

On Fire Baby, the filly who remains on the fringes of the Kentucky Derby discussion, was much better winning the Honeybee than her two length win margin would suggest.