12/29/2010 9:03PM

Fresh shooters arrive

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Awesome Patriot had little to beat Wednesday in race 4, a first-level allowance for 2-year-olds at one mile. Knock the Bob Baffert trainee at your own risk.

Baffert skipped the Hollywood Futurity with the Awesome Again-sired colt billed as a two-turn horse. Stretching to a mile over a “wet-fast” track, he ran the best race of his four-start career.

Awesome Patriot made the lead into the backstretch, while hounded by Riveting Reason. The early pace was kind (:46.42 and 1:10.44); both colts turned it on late.

They raced head-and-head through a final quarter-mile in 24.21 seconds, and despite his relative inexperience, Awesome Patriot would not yield to his seasoned rival. At the finish, Awesome Patriot pulled clear by a half-length and galloped out well in front.

His final time of 1:35.05 should produce a Beyer Figure in the 85 to 90 range. (Awesome Patriot earned an 89 Beyer.)

It was a respectable time by a lightly raced colt with much to prove. At this point, the horse he beat (Riveting Reason) is merely allowance-caliber. Riveting Reason finished fifth of 10 in the Hollywood Futurity, and was eighth of 10 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The allowance race Wednesday would have been more meaningful if Anthony’s Cross ran. However, he scratched due to track condition and will run Jan. 15 in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. His expected opponent in that race will be Tapizar.

Rafael Bejarano rode Awesome Patriot and also Gladding in race 7. The Florida shipper started at even-money in the first-level allowance for older horses at a mile.

Purchased privately following a 17-length maiden win at Calder on Oct. 22, Gladding was making his first start for trainer John Sadler and owner Lee Searing. The 3-year-old gelding reproduced his best form, winning by two and one-quarter lengths in a sharp 1:34.19.

His final time should produce a Beyer Figure in the 95 to 100 range. (Gladding earned a 99 Beyer.)

Is it good enough to hit the board Feb. 5 in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes? It just might be.

The meet is only three days old. The new shooters are showing up.

GunBow More than 1 year ago
The dirt track is allowing quality horses to go out fast and then keep going. On Pro-Ride, jockeys were very reluctant in 2 turn races to go out and set even moderately fast fractions because of how frontrunners struggled at times. Now, jockeys realize that if their horse is good enough, they can go relatively quickly and still win. The result, in just a week of racing, is a collection of top Beyers that are likely better than anything produced in the fastest month on Pro-Ride last year, or at least close. No question it's a different game. What doesn't seem to be so different are the horses winning the races. Now, maybe its because the horse population in SoCal has so few "dirt specialists", but we're not seeing proven synth stars displaced by proven dirt horses. Instead, it seems, for the most part, that the quality horses on synth, particularly Hollywood Park, are the quality horses so far on dirt. It's early, but can any trends be detected, any conclusions drawn? Do most horses appear to be making the transition from synth to dirt? Which horses are making this transition better? Does success on the synth surface of one particular track(like say Hollywood) appear to be a significant predictor for dirt success? How are shippers, with proven dirt form back East, faring? Do the results so far suggest proven synth stars can transfer their form to dirt better than dirt stars can transfer their form to synth ('08 and '09 Breeders' Cup stats)?