04/03/2009 5:59PM

Weekend opinions, etc.

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Let's take a look at some interesting horses entered this weekend:

Apple Blossom (Oaklawn - Race 8 - Saturday):
Think the two favorites, Acoma and Seventh Street, may be a bit vulnerable.  The former received a wonderful pace setup when winning the Azeri over this course and distance last time out while Seventh Street finished up on her wrong lead in the Barbara Fritchie after suffering from a horrendous trip.  Perhaps Superior Storm will offer a hint of value.  The versatile filly has won 11 of 16 races, is a perfect 3-3 at the Apple Blossom distance, and her confidence should be sky-high after vanquishing champion Proud Spell on March 12.  She has good early speed, and should get the jump on Acoma turning for home.
Selections:  Superior Storm, Acoma, Seventh Street

Arcadia Handicap (Santa Anita - Race 7 - Saturday):
It will be interesting to see if Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Desert Code can successfully stretch his speed around a two-turn mile.  He did win the Grade 3 Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles over the Hollywood cushion track, but that race was way back in 2007, and he's been more of a down the hill specialist since then.  He got away with an easy first quarter-mile when going gate-to-wire in the Daytona Handicap on February 15, but looms the speed nearest the hedge, and should prove a dangerous pace threat once again.
Selections:  Desert Code, Mr Napper Tandy, Dixie Chatter

Bay Shore (Aqueduct - Race 7 - Saturday):
Love that Capt. Candyman Can is turning back into a sprint, and he should get a wonderful setup with plenty of speeds likely to duke it out in the opening four furlongs.  Capt. Candyman Can rated kindly in winning the Hutcheson at this distance two back, and wasn't disgraced against leading Kentucky Derby contender Quality Road in the Fountain of Youth.  According to Formulator Web statistics, trainer Ian Wilkes is 10-26 (38%, $3.40 ROI) over the past year with horses cutting back from routes to sprints. 
Selections:  Capt. Candyman Can, Taqarub, Not for Silver

Excelsior Handicap (Aqueduct - Race 8 - Saturday):
Kurbat returned from a nine month layoff to break the track record going About 1 1/16 Miles at Laurel in his North American debut, and trainer Graham Motion is showing tons of confidence by immediately placing the 2007 Chilean St. Leger winner into this graded spot.  There isn't a ton of pace in the Excelsior, and Kurbat may work out a nice stalking trip under Joe Talamo.
Selections:  Kurbat, Barrier Reef, True Resurgence

More importantly, who do you fancy this weekend?  I want to know.

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Mr. Illman,
By any chance, have you a calculated Beyer par/average for the Santa Anita Derby
eternal_arcadia

Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures for each running of the Santa Anita Derby since 1990 (according to The American Racing Manual):

1990:  Mister Frisky - 109
1991:  Dinard - 108
1992:  A.P. Indy - 95
1993:  Personal Hope - 98
1994:  Brocco - 105
1995:  Larry the Legend - 106
1996:  Cavonnier - 104
1997:  Free House - 110
1998:  Indian Charlie - 111
1999:  General Challenge - 108
2000:  The Deputy - 109
2001:  Point Given - 110
2002:  Came Home - 96
2003:  Buddy Gil - 104
2004:  Castledale - 103
2005:  Buzzards Bay - 98
2006:  Brother Derek - 108
2007:  Tiago - 100
2008:  Colonel John - 95

Beyer Par = 104

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Dan,
Now that the first baby races are being run at Keeneland (and I see that your first Keeneland Babies article is up), can you maybe run through some of the first-crop sires that you're expecting big things from?  What do you think about Kitten's Joy?

Soli


Being a strong turf runner, Kitten's Joy isn't likely to be a commercial success at stud.  He'll thus have to depend on his breeder/owners, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsay, to support him with their mares.  The Ramsays and trainer Mike Maker have several Kitten's Joy babies training at Churchill Downs, but I think they'll do their best running later with added maturity and distance.  I'm expecting them to do well on grass and polytrack.  Here's a list of some first-crop sires that I'll be following:

Consolidator
Afleet Alex
Roman Ruler
Eurosilver
Kitten's Joy
Leroidesanimaux
Limehouse
Powerscourt
Proud Accolade
Wildcat Heir

*Consolidator, a son of Storm Cat, won the Breeders' Futurity at two, and the San Felipe the following year.  His dam was a Group 3 winner in France, and the Consolidators may be solid synthetic/turf milers.

*Afleet Alex, Ghostzapper, and Rock Hard Ten may get most of the press but, of the three, I prefer Afleet Alex.  He was precocious enough to win the Hopeful at two on his way to the Preakness and Belmont the following year. 

*Roman Ruler was fast enough to win his maiden at five furlongs, and classy enough to win the Haskell at three.  He's a half to El Corredor.

*Eurosilver, a son of Unbridled's Song, won the Breeders' Futurity at two, and returned from injury to take the Skip Away at four.  His second dam, Brave Raj, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

*Kitten's Joy, Leroidesanimaux, and Powerscourt should do well with turf runners later on in the year, and as they mature.

*Limehouse was a pretty precocious son of Grand Slam, winning the Bashford Manor and Three Chimneys Juvenile early in his two-year-old season.  He won the Hutcheson at three, and stretched his speed nine furlongs in the Brooklyn at four.

*Proud Accolade and Wildcat Heir were quick.  Along with the Roman Rulers, they should progress early on in the season.

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Any update on Zenyatta these days?  I can understand a post BC break but this is awfully long.
Lawduck07

She worked five furlongs this morning, and should be nearing a return to the races.

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Dan,
i mentioned something to do with Officer and it reminded me of the horse who beat him in the Cal Cup Juvenile, YOUGOTTAWANNA. He was a front-runner with a big heart and well named. Do you think that we could see his pp's. Thanks.
tencentcielo

Here they are:

Download Yougottawanna

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Have a great weekend.

Dan