05/30/2008 5:43PM

First-crop sires, weekend opinions

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hey dan,
i as wanting to know if u knew when Gio Ponti is going 2 return 2 the races. he was undefeated going into the juvy turf last year and had no running room in the stretch. i checked the worktab and hes working steadily now.
thanks
pmal


I wouldn't be surprised if Gio Ponti makes his three-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont on June 6.

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Dan,
On another topic, I was assume that there is an organization that certifies thoroughbreds in the same way
the American kennel Club certifies dogs. I was wondering what the name of that organization is.
Also, is it true that a thoroughbred, to be certified, cannot be artificially inseminated. And, to your knowledge, is there any language regarding the certification of Thoroughbreds, that specifically addresses the concept of cloning?
chicago gerry


The Jockey Club handles all of the paperwork involving thoroughbred racing.  Here is their website:

http://www.jockeyclub.com/

Thoroughbred mares are not allowed to be artificially impregnated, and cloning isn't allowed either (although I don't know of any specific language - you may want to search on their site) although there have been rumors of some breeders artificially impregnating their mares.

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Dan,
Saw in your sign off you were going to post thoughts on first crop sires tomorrow. A freshmen sire I really like is Even The Score (Unbridled's Song). He stands @ Millenium Farms in Kentucky for 7,500k. Will add a disclaimer to that, as I think ETS's children will shine much more @3 or older. Any thoughts?
johnnyz

Even the Score is a big grey that got better with age and distance.  He didn't win his first stakes race until age five (Mardi Gras Handicap), and he didn't win his first graded event until the following year (won the Californian and Mervyn LeRoy). 
Even the Score was a $285,000 weanling purchase, and he was a $475,000 RNA as a Keeneland July yearling.  He won his career debut going 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs as a 3-year-old, and ended his career with six straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.  He was a winner on turf and dirt between 6 1/2 furlongs and 1 1/8 miles. 
His dam was a stakes-winner of $321,748, and finished third in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap.  This is the family of Dorothy Kay, the granddam of Formal Gold.
I'm expecting his progeny to be late-developing types that should do well on the grass.  He was a solid, hard-hitting racehorse, but I wonder how he'll do commercially.  Unfortunately, that's the measuring stick for stallions nowadays, and if he isn't hot right away, he may get lost in the shuffle.

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Arazi mentioned Stud Muffin in his Pick 4 selections.  Hopefully, he cashed a ticket at $40+ to win.

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Let's take a look at some of Saturday's stakes races:

Milady Handicap (Hollywood - Race 5):
I just can't see anyone beating Zenyatta right now.  She's been tremendous in all four starts, and she blew the doors off four next-out winners in the Apple Blossom.  She's comfortable over the Hollywood cushion track, and should get a positive race flow with Romance Is Diane and La Tee carving out the fractions.  There's no value to win as Zenyatta may go off at 3-5, but perhaps we can make the exacta by trying to beat Romance Is Diane for the second spot.  La Tee will make her first start on the main track, and she boasts an improving Beyer profile for the third start of the form cycle.  The distance is a question, but she's sharp, and has some upside.  Kris' Sis sould also be considered for the gimmicks.  She just missed behind Diamond Diva in the Wilshire on April 23, and that one returned to finish a game second to Precious Kitten last week.  Kris's Sis has won on turf and dirt, and has trained quickly over the cushion track.  Romance Is Diane went gate-to-wire when taking the Grade 2 Bayakoa over this track/trip two back, but I didn't like how she was drifting out during the final furlong of that race, and she was no match for Zenyatta in the El Encino.  Add in the fact that she hasn't raced since January, and she may be vulnerable.  Foxysox won the 2006 Bayakoa over cushion track, and she's coming off a game score in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara on turf.  Like Kris's Sis, she is versatile, and has good tactical speed.  Double Trouble may have found 10 furlongs outside her range last time, and should appreciate turning back in distance for Frankel/Bejarano.  You have to respect Santa Teresita's consistency, and it's possible that we haven't seen her best race yet.
Selections:   Zenyatta, La Tee, Kris' Sis

Californian (Hollywood - Race 8)
I'm a big fan of both Heatseeker and Tiago, but think that the former will turn the tables on Saturday.  These two engaged in a nip-and-tuck stretch battle in the Oaklawn Handicap on April 5 with Tiago getting the nod, but there isn't much speed in this short field, and Heatseeker may get the jump on his rival going into the far turn.  Both are hard-hitting handicappers, and they should once again put on a heck of a show.  Surf Cat is a tough veteran that has overcome a lot of adversity in his career.  He's still going strong as evidenced by his win in the Mervyn LeRoy on April 26, and he may be in front when the field turns for home.  Albertus Maximus may try to take this field gate-to-wire ala the 'n2x' score on April 23, but he's taking a big step up in class.  Shamdinan has struggled on turf of late.
Selections:  Heatseeker, Tiago

Dogwood (Churchill - Race 8)
Keep the Peace
was very impressive in defeat on Derby Day in the La Troienne, and she can make amends with a pace-pressing run in the Dogwood.  In the La Troienne, she hounded Secret Gypsy throughout, was forced out by that rival turning for home, and dug in gamely when confronted by the rail-skimming winner, Game Face, in late stretch.  She'll go third off the bench in this spot, and although she may have to battle with Secret Gypsy again, she seems to have that one's number.  Alina was beaten less than a length by Eight Belles in the Fantasy, but she couldn't make up any late ground in the La Troienne.  She may work out a great inside-out tracking trip behind the two speeds, and wouldn't be a surprise for the Asmussen barn.  Tiz to Dream draws a nice attack post, and she should sit a wonderful trip stalking Keep the Peace and Secret Gypsy.  Both of her wins have come in route races, and she should appreciate the extra half a furlong to work with here.  Secret Gypsy may have needed the La Troienne as it was her first start since Saratoga (went to the DL shortly after the Spa race). 
Selection:  Keep the Peace

Aristides (Churchill - Race 10)
There seems to be a good amount of speed in here so I'll go for a closer at a price.  Carnacks Choice received a 107 Beyer after necking Indian Chant two back at Keeneland, then was sloughed at the break of the Churchill Downs Handicap on Derby Day.  I'm willing to draw a line through the CD 'Cap, and am expecting an improved showing from off the pace.  Elite Squadron has never been better.  He was so game when a head short in the Commonwealth at Keeneland, and he then ran his opponents off their feet when a gate-to-wire winner in the Churchill Downs Handicap.  He'll probably face more pressure on Saturday, however, as Indian Chant and Esperamos may keep him busy.  Indian Chant powered away from his optional claiming rivals 20 days ago, and he's been a tremendous find for these connections.  He'll be running and gunning from the gate, but must avoid a prolonged early battle.  Kelly's Landing tired late behind Indian Chant in the first start off the layoff (and Disabled List).  He gets the right setup here, but may also be getting a little long in the tooth.  Noonmark is another that should be rallying into strong fractions, but I didn't like how he switched back to his wrong lead in the late going of the Churchill Downs Handicap.
Selection:  Carnacks Choice

Sands Point (Belmont - Race 9)
I Lost My Choo
got very headstrong going into the first turn of the Grade 3 Appalachian at Keeneland last time out yet was still battling hard to the wire.  Edgar Prado will have to find a way to get this filly to relax coming out of the gate, but if he can, then I Lost My Choo should be a very salty customer on Saturday.  Alwajeeha made a nice wide move going into the final turn of the Appalachian, and got the duke in a multi-horse photo.  This lightly-raced filly has some talent, but it looked to me like she started to hang in midstretch last time, and she can't afford to play with these rivals.  I'll be rooting for Riley's Life Is Sweet, a full sister to Sweet Catomine that's been keeping quality company all year long.  She did save all the ground in the Calder Oaks last time out, however, and still couldn't reel in Ginger Brew.  She's still a bit green, but the talent is obviously there.  Raw Silk may be able to set an uncontested lead in this spot, and she may be rounding into her best form in the third start of the year.  The distance remains a question, though.  Ambidaxtrous steps up out of New York-bred competition, but has been a new horse on the lawn.
Selections:  I Lost My Choo, Alwajeeha, Life Is Sweet

Ohio Derby (Thistledown - Race 9)
We'll be rooting for Team Zayat as Z Fortune looks to have found a wonderful spot to get back on the beam.   Z Fortune and Smooth Air are the most accomplished horses in the race, and as such, both will take lots of money.  Both also ran up the track in the Kentucky Derby, and it will be interesting to see how they rebound from that taxing effort.  I'm going to pick a crazy longshot in the Ohio Derby.  Celtic Meal looks distance-challenged, but he may be the main speed of the race, and he battled back gamely for second in the Tall Ships at Presque Isle Downs last time out.  Perhaps he'll get brave up front.  Instill earned a triple-digit Beyer last time out at Hawthorne, and has the tactical speed to lay close to the pace.  We'll find out if that last number is for real.  Cherokee Artist hasn't done much wrong in his short career, but is taking a bit step up from the maiden ranks.  Graham Motion is consistently underrated, and his colt has upside.  Z Fortune and Smooth Air get huge doses of class relief.  Neither would be a surprise.
Selections:  Celtic Meal, Instill, Cherokee Artist

Nassau (Woodbine - Race 6) - Arravale

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

Best,

Dan