02/13/2011 1:31PM

Lewis, El Camino Real, and Davis Disappoint

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The odds-on favorites in Saturday’s three graded, two-turn Kentucky Derby preps weren’t completely shut out, but that’s really no consolation. Let’s be honest about it: The only way you could have been satisfied with Saturday’s three Derby preps were if you own or bet on the winners.

Probably the biggest Derby-related story Saturday was the surrender Tapizar made at 1-5 in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. No one could have anticipated that Tapizar would back up to the point of finishing fifth of seven as he did. But anyone who watched Tapizar win last month’s Sham Stakes knew that a fold of some sort was not out of the question.

On the surface, Tapizar’s win in the Sham was a nice one. He won by open lengths (4 ¼ lengths, to be precise) and ran reasonably fast (98 Beyer Figure). But there was a troubling aspect to Tapizar’s performance in the Sham, and that was how headstrong and insistent on the early lead he was. That is just not a trait found in many, if any, Kentucky Derby winners. Well, Tapizar was even more headstrong in the early running of the Lewis. While he didn’t go as fast as the absurd 19 and change and 42 that was initially posted, his corrected splits of 22.48 and 45.64 were still too fast. It was obvious Tapizar was finished turning for home, and so, too, was his status as a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender. Tapizar, who took a lot of money in Future Book Derby wagering in Las Vegas right after the Sham, looks more like a candidate for the seven-furlong King’s Bishop. And even then, only maybe.

Of course, Tapizar’s flop in the Lewis wouldn’t be such a big deal if someone else in the race stepped up in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, no one did. I hate to knock Anthony’s Cross, who prevailed by a nose, because he was closest early to Tapizar’s fast fractions and he did produce his best effort yet in his first start with blinkers. But Anthony’s Cross staggered home, covering his last three-eighths of a mile in 38.71, and the preliminary 90 Beyer he earned doesn’t get him close to the discussion of prime Derby candidates. And as for runner-up Riveting Reason, he had no business not getting up what with the way the race set up. Then again, considering Riveting Reason was only 1 for 8 going into the Lewis, we already knew exactly what he could and couldn’t do.

Comma to the Top’s fourth at 1-2 in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate was in some respects just as ugly as Tapizar’s in the Lewis. Beyond bearing out in the run to the first turn and then again after turning for home (running sideways is also not a trait found in most Derby winners), Comma to the Top proved incapable of cashing in on a sweet trip. Comma to the Top tracked a pace set by Jakesam, moved like he was going to inhale him in upper stretch, and then … nothing. Comma to the Top, who had won five straight before Saturday, including the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, never did get by Jakesam, who is still looking for his first stakes win. Comma to the Top wound up three lengths behind Jakesam, and another 1 ¼ lengths behind the winner, Silver Medallion. And now, you have to consider the possibility that, considering Comma to the Top’s humble beginnings (two of the gelding’s first three career starts came in maiden claimers), maybe – just maybe – he peaked late last year at 2 and we’ve already seen the best of him.

As for Silver Medallion, the fact that he was winning his second straight since moving into the Steve Asmussen barn he now shares with Tapizar might, for some, distinguish him from the Robert Lewis crew. Then again, there is still a sour taste from his double-digit margin losses in his two stakes starts East of California, and his preliminary 93 Beyer for Saturday isn’t anything to get excited about.

Brethren, the one odds-on winner to win in Saturday’s Derby preps, took the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs at 4-5. The cheery post-race recap would have Brethren, a half brother to last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, doing exactly what he had to do Saturday: Overpowering his field to score by a decisive four lengths, putting himself in position for a big move in what will likely be his next and final prep for Louisville.

But Brethren had better have a big move forward in him, because his Sam Davis doesn’t seem quite as rosy on closer examination. Brethren won big Saturday because the field he was in with was too soft to make it any closer. And Brethren’s profoundly pedestrian preliminary Beyer of 83 in the Davis didn’t even match the pair of 84’s he earned last year. Derby colts should run faster as they develop physically, so that is not an encouraging sign.

Fijiking More than 1 year ago
Mike, Great call on Expansion. Thanks for making my FG Pick 4. Now, I will wait for you to change your mind on Brethren after his next outing.
Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
Mike... great call today on Expansion..... $66.00 to win and makes my Fairgrounds Pick 4 a nice score. I was going to use him (because he legged up in CA against some good horses) anyway, but I must give credit where it is due. Great call and I hope you had the tri/super for yourself.
Bill Daly More than 1 year ago
Thought Brethren was visually impressive and won with consummate ease. I don't know what was behind him- I thought Monzon would offer something more - but Brethren looked like a good horse out for exercise.
Jay Kessler More than 1 year ago
Regarding Comma at the Top, it may be possible that he just did not favor the synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields although that not the likely reason for his poor performance. However, before rejecting him as a Derby contender we should see how he fares on his return to dirt racing.
lefthander32 More than 1 year ago
Mike, I was also at SA on Saturday. I was at the saddling barn as well as leaning on the paddock fence as Tapizar walked right by me and within a few feet. I will tell you this and I have seen a lot of horseflesh, Tapizar looked real good in all of the pre-race dealings. He was on his toes, his neck was bowed and he looked far better than his rivals in every way imaginable. Now what happened from there to race time I don't know because I did not get the binoculars on him during the warmup, but if Garrett said he did not like getting "eared" then that is probably what happened. Lame excuse really but these are animals. Have you ever cranked on your dogs ear and see how he reacted? I think this one deserves another shot at the marbles and they should not overreact. By the way, his other horse Albergatti(is that right?) was a physical specimen and this horse is headed for bigger and better things that is for sure... lefty
RoMo More than 1 year ago
. . .. A little early to include and exclude based on BSF ..? The colts of the last decade or so are more difficult to figure for a first Saturday in May race going 10f ..? Some improve more than others with each race at 3 .. Some are way ahead of the the others in their crop as 2 YO's ..? So for me .. a person can only watch and keep track of "who's" still there and contesting in the preps (at least 9f preps).. Hard to tell which ones are on a course to peak on the First Saturday in May .. and which ones are "burning up the motor" to win early preps ..? They do have to be in the top 20 in GS$ .. to get a ticket to the big dance ..? Still the big money comes a little farther down the TC Trail ..? I'm sure by SA D and Wood time .. we'll be back to arguing about the logic of counting all the GS$ counting from two year old races .. like Comma to the Top/Tapizar .. if they go in other 9f prep races and looks the same as Saturday and still get a gate-slot on the First Saturday in May's KY D .. So I'm of the mind that they need the tactical speed to be in the first 6-8 turning for home at CD's KY D .. after the nitrous has run out on the speeders.. or a closer that close enough to make up the ground in the last quarter ..?
MIKE BROWN More than 1 year ago
Very hard to believe that Beyer got the number correct. No way he didn't top his 2 yr old number in my opinion.
Jim Morrans More than 1 year ago
Think your analysis of the races is sharp, just dont understand why you then have to end each race quoting a Beyer Number. You have watched enough races to know if the race was a quality race or not. The two fillies recently staggered home in the Las Virgines and the race was given a 86-88 Beyer? Give me a break, the race was set up by a blistering pace (21 44 1/5 for a mile) and the final time which the Beyer is calculated from is meaningless.
Beyer C. Entric More than 1 year ago
Mike- What more could be asked of Brethren off the shelf, in his first Stakes race, after breaking poorly, and after being geared down in the stretch. The horse could have likely earned a bigger figure if not for the circumstances, but why? He did what he should have done in a professional manner. The horse has the pedigree and outstanding maturity at this point in his career. How many horses win their debut, follow that up with a NW1X win around two turns, and dominate in a Stakes debut? Further, aside from Uncle Mo (countless juvenile champs and others that have huge two year old seasons fall by the wayside) and arguably Dialed In, he doesn't have to improve as much as you are representing here to take the Roses despite the pedistrian figure.
Chewy6294 More than 1 year ago
Dominguez looked back in the stretch on Brethern released his hands and coasted home. I would think that would have an effect a horses Beyer figure.