04/03/2008 4:17PM

DERBY, OAKS, 3yo talk


Hi Dan give me your thoughts on Harlem Rocker .

Some people are saying he's Pletcher's best three-year-old right now, and while I won't go that far, I have been impressed with the way he's won both of his races.  In his career debut at Gulfstream, he completely missed the break, but showed some agility by advancing on the rail late on the backstretch.  He angled four wide on the turn, and put in a sustained run to win despite perhaps idling just a bit once he made the front in the stretch.  Last time out, he again put in a prolonged wide run, and was being eased up under the wire.  The gray lacks seasoning, and hasn't really been tested, but he goes about his work well, and has no problem with passing horses.  I'll be interested to see where he goes next.  The Stronach homebred earned a 95 Beyer in his one mile allowance race at Gulfstream.  He's by Macho Uno, and is the first foal from the multiple stakes-placed Freedom Come (9-4-3-0, $218,401), a half-sister to Grade 3 route winner Boomzeeboom.  The second dam, Zee Lady (by Unreal Zeal), was a stakes-winning sprinter at two in New York.


I would love to know your anaylsis on Salute the Sarge. (unfortunately, Georgie Boy is out) but how about this other West Coast prospect?
SR Vegas

I have to admit that I wasn't much of a fan of him at two.  He may have been aided by a closer's bias in his career debut at Del Mar, then won a slow edition of the Best Pal.  I also wonder if he's more a late-running sprinter than a true route horse.  That being said, I think that Eric Guillot did a great job nursing Salute the Sarge back to the races after he was sidelined with a sore ankle.  He enjoyed a favorable setup to win the San Miguel, however, and Guillot may be rushing this horse a bit to get him into the Derby.   I'm going to be cautiously pessimistic about his Derby chances for now. 
Salute the Sarge is a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Chelokee, and stakes-winner Mymich by Forest Wildcat.  His dam, Dixie Ghost (by Silver Ghost), was Grade 2-placed going long on the turf.  The second dam, Mississippi Dixie (by Dixieland Band), is an unraced half-sister to Grade 1 turf winner Dismasted.  The third dam, Nashima (by Nashua), won four of eight races, and is a half-sister to French Group 2 turf winner Kilmona.  The fourth dam (by Tulyar) was a stakes-winner on grass.    
He has an intriguing grass pedigree if his connections opt for that route later down the road.


How many times Swaps and Nashua race against each other and what the the score?
Calvin Carter

The two champions battled each other twice, but their rivalry was never settled by a rubber match.  The California flash bested favored Nashua in the 1955 Kentucky Derby.  Swaps, sent off at 5-2 under Willie Shoemaker, went gate-to-wire to post a 1 1/2 length victory over Nashua.  The two faced each other again on August 31, 1955 in a $100,000 Match Race at Washington Park.  That race was also at ten furlongs, but this time it was Nashua who grabbed the early lead.  After motoring a half mile in :46 flat, and three-quarters in 1:10 2/5, Nashua drew off under Eddie Arcaro to post a 6 1/2 length triumph over Swaps, the 3-10 favorite under Shoemaker.


Let's look at some of the big stakes races in tomorrow's blog.

Take care,