03/05/2014 5:01PM

Sophomore Spotlights


Let's take a look at a pair of sharp 3-year-olds expected to soon contest Kentucky Derby preps.

 GALA AWARD (Bernardini - Wilshewed, by Carson City)
*Foal Date, State: February 22, 2011, Kentucky
*Breeder: William L. Currin
*Owner: Michael B. Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier
*Trainer: Todd Pletcher
*Auction history: $1,550,000 Keeneland September Yearling
*Last Race:  1st Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf), Gulfstream, March 1, 88 Beyer
*DP = 12-10-16-0-0 (38) DI = 3.75   CD = 0.89

Gala Award, a seven-figure yearling purchase trained by Todd Pletcher, won the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at nine furlongs on turf last weekend at Gulfstream Park. Although campaigned exclusively on grass after three lifetime starts, Gala Award has dirt in his pedigree, acts like he'll run all day, and may receive an opportunity to amass Kentucky Derby points in the Blue Grass Stakes over Keeneland's polytrack on April 12.

The Palm Beach boasted a deep and competitive field of twelve that featured graded winner Mr Speaker and multiple stakes-winner Storming Inti. Ridden by John Velazquez, Gala Award broke nicely from post position nine and settled three wide while just off the leaders. Despite losing ground throughout, Gala Award was in strong contention turning for home, and he gamely wore down Storming Inti while fending off Mr Speaker's late flurry. Gala Award covered the distance in 1:46.19, polished off his last three furlongs in 34.58, and received a career-best 88 Beyer Speed Figure.

Gala Award is by Bernardini, a son of A. P. Indy that was named champion 3-year-old in 2006 after winning the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes, Grade 1 Travers Stakes and Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Bernardini has passed on his strong stamina to his best offspring like Travers and Grade 1 Cigar Mile winner Stay Thirsty, Grade 1 Woodward Stakes and Cigar Mile hero To Honor and Serve, and Travers and Woodward winner Alpha.

Gala Award joins Stormello and My Best Brother as graded stakes winners produced from Wilshewed (by Carson City). Although Stormello's big victory came in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity over cushion track, he also prevailed in the Grade 2 Norfolk on dirt. My Best Brother captured the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby at nine furlongs on turf.

Wilshewed placed twice on turf and is a half-sister to Italian Group 1-placed turf performer Saudi Desert, British stakes-winning turfer Braari, and multiple stakes-winners Special Alert and Special Moves.

Bernardini has "nicked" very well with Carson City mares as Grade 1 winner A Z Warrior and Grade 2 winner Wilburn are products of that particular breeding cross.

Gala Award sold for $1,550,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling auction. He was the second highest-priced yearling at the sale and finished a solid second in his lone start at two last year. In his final start prior to the Palm Beach, Gala Award defeated 11 maidens at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Gulfstream.

Gala Award seems more of a grinding type than a 3-year-old with a quick and powerful burst. He stays nine furlongs without a problem and has the tactical speed to find good early position. Turf horses often perform admirably on the Keeneland polytrack and Gala Award looms an appealing contender in that spot. If he runs well in the Blue Grass, Gala Award likely will receive an opportunity to prove his mettle on dirt in the Kentucky Derby.

THE TRUNK MONKEY (Old Fashioned - Susquehanna River, by Trippi)
*Foal Date, State: March 23, 2011, Pennsylvania
*Breeder: Hope Hill Farm & Thomas McGreevy
*Owner: Fox Hill Farms, Inc.
*Trainer: J. Larry Jones
*Auction history: $110,000 Keeneland September Yearling
*Last Race:  1st ‘n1x’ optional claimer, 1 Mile 70 Yards, Fair Grounds, February 28, 86 Beyer
*DP = 2-5-3-0-0 (10) DI = 5.67   CD = 0.90

The Trunk Monkey might be too fast for his own good as it pertains to the Classics, but the talented gray colt looks like a stakes-caliber sprinter/miler in the making.

Trained by Larry Jones, The Trunk Monkey is perfect from two starts. He made his debut over six furlongs at Fair Grounds on January 31 and gave an impressive effort. No secret as the 7-5 favorite, The Trunk Monkey was slow from the gate under Rosie Napravnik. He pulled his way up to press the more-experienced pacesetter, Glacken Too, through splits of 21.90 and 45.24. Glacken Too was a stubborn customer in the stretch, but The Trunk Monkey was resolute in his rally and ended up a neck better at the wire. Glacken Too flattered the race by returning to graduate with an 85 Beyer Speed Figure while the fourth-finisher, Saint Finian, came back to win on turf with a 78 Beyer.

Entered as the lone "Main Track Only" competitor in an entry-level optional claimer on February 28, The Trunk Monkey drew into the off-the-turf event and succeeded at odds-on in his first try around two turns. Again, he broke somewhat awkwardly but was soon righted by Napravnik to track the pace from the outside. After an opening quarter of 23.40, The Trunk Monkey reeled off his next two furlongs in 22.75 and drew clear from his primary pursuer. The Trunk Monkey looked a bit tired in the stretch, but still finished 6 1/2 lengths better than runnerup Bern' James Bern.

The Trunk Monkey is by second-crop stallion Old Fashioned, a son of Unbridled's Song that won at distances between 6-9 furlongs. Never out of the exacta from six starts, Old Fashioned grabbed the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at two and the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at three for these connections. He has gotten off to a hot start at stud with Grade 1 winner Fashion Plate and Grade 3 winner Sweet Whiskey among his leading progeny.

The Trunk Monkey is the first foal from Susquehanna River, a Trippi mare that placed from three sprint outings. The second dam, Kris' Pine Sticks (by Pine Bluff), finished third in the Tropical Park Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on turf. This is the female family of Grade 1 turf winner Both Ends Burning and Grade 1 route winner Hyperborean.

The Trunk Monkey will likely get a stern class and distance test in his next appearance. With all of the speed on the bottom half of the pedigree, it's possible that he's best followed as a King's Bishop prospect at seven furlongs this summer at Saratoga.

*The FormBlog Convention, as usual, was a rousing success. I'd like to thank Laura for all of her hard work in setting up the schedule and events, Mike Nyman and all of the folks at Gulfstream Park for their extreme hospitality, BobC for being such a gracious chauffeur, friend and event chronicler, and all of the attendees for their enthusiasm and friendship. I'm so privileged to meet, and make friends with, such quality people. Although my stay was shortened due to travel issues, I had a fantastic time and can't wait for next year's gathering.

The posters that create and discuss the content are the main reason FormBlog has been so successful for this long run. My only rule has been to "be kind to each other."  The FormBloggers not only have excellent opinions on the game we love, but show respect to each other. I greatly cherish your participation.

*It's a shame that the brilliant MEAN SEASON is so brittle. Wickedly fast, the 4-year-old has won all three career appearances by a combined 20 1/4 lengths and has put up Beyers in 105 and 107 since being purchased for $150,000 last November. Unfortunately, Mean Season emerged from his 'n2x' romp at Aqueduct last Saturday with a fractured left foreleg. While the injury won't require surgery, he'll be out for several months at the least.

*Don't think he's the Derby winner, but Todd Pletcher's ANCHOR DOWN was a good-looking winner at Gulfstream during the FormBlog Convention. One of my opinions for the weekend was that MYOSITIS DAN was primed for a good effort at 13-1 odds in an entry-level optional claimer. Myositis Dan made a bold move to split horses and take the lead on the turn, but Anchor Down "hulked up," re-rallied, and shrugged him off after a couple of strides. Myositis Dan tried all the way to the wire, but wasn't beating Anchor Down, a $250,000 half-brother to Grade 1 winner Sweet Lulu by Tapit.


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures (2/24/14 - 3/2/14):

1. MEAN SEASON - 107 - OC 50k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
2. SUNS OUT GUNS OUT - 101 - OC 100k/C -N - 1 Mile - Gulfstream
3. STRAPPING GROOM - 100 - Tom Fool Handicap (G3) - 6 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
4. BOLD THUNDER - 99 - Silks Run Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Gulfstream
5. RIBO BOBO - 97 - Caixa Eletronica Stakes - 6 Furlongs - Gulfstream
5. SUNBEAN - 97 - Star Guitar Stakes - 1 1/16 Miles - Fair Grounds
7. ANCHOR DOWN - 96 -  OC 75k/N1X -N  - 7 Furlongs - Gulfstream
7. DAWLY - 96 - Alw 16000s - 1 Mile (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
7. SAMRAAT - 96 - Gotham Stakes (G3) - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
10. ANCIL - 95 - Turf Dash Staks - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Tampa Bay
10. DRESS CODE - 95 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 1 Mile - Santa Anita
10. POINT FINISH - 95 - Alw 26500NC - 1 Mile (Polytrack) - Turfway
10. SKY BLAZER - 95 - OC 100k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
14. NEVADA KID - 94 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - Gulfstream
15. ETERNAL RULER (IRE) - 93 - Clm c-(30-25)N3L - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
15. HARD NOT TO LIKE - 93 - OC 100k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
15. RED RIFLE - 93 - Maxxam Gold Cup Stakes - 1 1/8 Miles - Sam Houston
15. WRY ME - 93 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Laurel
19. MOMENTS NOTIZ - 92 - Alw 12500s - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
19. RUTHLESS ALLEY - 92 - Alw 50000s - 1 Mile (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct
21. DEEP PLAY - 91 - OC 20k/N1X -N - 1 1/8 Miles - Santa Anita
22. DRY SUMMER - 90 - Alw 26675C - 1 Mile - Sunland
22. HARD ENOUGH - 90 - Alw ---s - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - Gulfstream
22. QUIET FORCE - 90 - Clm c-(40-35) - 1 Mile - Santa Anita
22. RUNNIN BULL - 90 - Clm c-(25-20)N3L - 6 Furlongs - Parx
22. SOCIALBUG - 90 - Alw 61080N2X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Santa Anita
22. TEEN PAULINE - 90 - Top Flight Handicap (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Dirt) - Aqueduct

*MEAN SEASON's lifetime past performances are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*ETERNAL RULER was claimed for $30,000 by trainer J David Braddy from Michael Maker.

*RUNNIN BULL was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Randy Allen from Scott Lake.

*QUIET FORCE was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Dan Blacker from Jerry Fanning.


Can you post some horses that "intrique" you in the Pool 3 Kentucky Derby Pool?!? Can
To All Bloggers,
Please post your thoughts on who you like in Pool 3!!
All print editions of DRF Thursday-Saturday will have KD Pool 3 information.

I usually don't get involved in the Futures, but STRONG MANDATE and TAPITURE look like fair value at 18-1 and 17-1, respectively.


The weekend handicapping previews should be available in the video player on the homepage soon.

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman


Congrats to edb for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling race.

Rick M's scoresheet is available at the bottom of this blog post.

edb selected Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby for this week's exercise.


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


-  Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE POST.  Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST sign yourself at the end (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to recognize you .

- (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes.  Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.

- The winner will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!




Best of luck to all.

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