03/16/2009 4:20PM

Weekend recap, Beyers, etc.

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Lots to talk about so let's get cracking.  I guess we're all still trying to figure out what happened to Old Fashioned in the Rebel. You can look at it two ways:

Apologists:

1.  He moved too soon into the teeth of a hot pace.

2.  Maybe he didn't like the wet track.

3.  He didn't see the other horse until it was too late.

4.  Shouldn't his overall body of work count more than one losing race?

Critics:

1.  You're 2-5, you have multiple lengths on the field, and you can't hold off Win Willy???


I'm not sure where I stand right now.  After the race, I was extremely disappointed.  Who wouldn't be?  He had the race won, and the Kentucky Derby favorite should put on a show against those kind of horses, right?  Instead, he was under the bat in upper stretch, and was merely going up-and-down at the furlong marker. 
Did Dominguez move too soon?  I don't know about that.  He's on the best horse on paper, the trip is a carbon copy of the Southwest, and Silver City certainly isn't going to stay.  Why not break it open, and make them get you? 
Was the pace too fast?  Probably.  Look where the other two pace horses, Silver City and Hamazing Destiny, finished.  They were in another zipcode while Old Fashioned only got beat two and change. 
But what do you think the pace will look like in the Derby?  It's almost always fast.  If Old Fashioned can't finish in the Rebel, who's to say he can do it on the first Saturday in May going 1 1/4 miles?
I guess his overall record gives him the right to receive a mulligan.  He certainly shouldn't be tossed on the junkpile off one loss.  But the aura that surrounded this colt is disappearing like a thief in the night.  The Arkansas Derby is becoming a fascinating race.  Races for redemption are almost always fascinating. 
Let's hope Bret Calhoun finally realizes that Silver City is a sprinter.  I don't want another Indygo Mountain fiasco from this barn...For most trainers, the weekend that Larry Jones had would have been an unmitigated success.  Not only did Just Jenda score in the Honeybee, but Friesan Fire's romp in the Louisiana Derby may have been the performance of the weekend.  His tactical speed makes me think of Funny Cide, and Friesan Fire is usually going to find a good spot going into the first turn.  Is he a Fair Grounds freak? It's possible, but it's also possible that the A.P. Indy colt is finally putting it all together.  He was under a hand ride from Gabriel Saez while drawing away in upper stretch, and never was in danger of losing.  Doubtlessly, the connections of Patena, Giant Oak, Flying Pegasus, and others will point to the slop as a logical excuse, but while those horses pile up the alibis, Friesan Fire keeps on winning.  He's an extremely likeable horse...So, too, is Pioneerof the Nile, and his paltry 90 Beyer Speed Figure will probably raise the ire of SoCal fans.  Pioneerof the Nile is a consummate professional, and he responded to every one of his rider's commands in the San Felipe.  There was no pace on early, and Pioneerof the Nile willingly went up to track the leader on the backstretch.  They all took their shot at him when it counted, but he always beat them back.  While he still must prove that he can run on dirt, there's no denying his quality.  Congrats to our friends at Zayat Stables, not only for this win, but also for Heart Ashley's eye-opening performance in the Grade 3 Cicada at Aqueduct...I'm probably just being an old grouch, but I was kinda put off by Calvin Borel's unnecessary showboating aboard Rachel Alexandra as the duo approached the wire at the Fair Grounds Oaks.  I'm a big Rachel Alexandra fan, but the race amounted to no more than a public workout with Borel merely a passenger.  C'mon Calvin.  You weren't beating Ruffian.  You didn't win by ten, and the race wasn't even a Grade 1.  Don't show up the connections of the other horses by jumping out of the saddle...Last week, we congratulated King Leatherbury for a wonderful job in nursing Ah Day back into the winner's circle.  This time, kudos go to Bennie Stutts Jr., who never lost the faith with Smooth Air despite niggling problems that would have sidetracked a lesser animal and trainer.  His Gulfstream Park Handicap win should have Stutts looking for bigger and better.  Bribon continues to tease.  His allowance races are huge.  As for the majority of his stakes tries.  Feh...Life Is Sweet continues to roll along for John Shirreffs.  She's not a bad "two" of the "one-two" punch with Zenyatta...Handicappers were hailing Chris Decarlo as a genius after Duke of Homberg threw down a 25.65 first quarter mile while two in front of the Palm Beach field.  After running the second quarter in 23.31, and the third in 22.66, they had to wonder what was going on.  Casey's On Call, the expected pacesetter, missed the break.  Stormalory was stopped just a bit turning for home...As for the Tampa Bay Derby, the best thing one could say about Musket Man is that he won't quit on you.  He'll try all the way to the wire.  I think I'm going to wave the white flag with Hello Broadway...Pedigree fans were cashing at Gulfstream as Jersey Town (Speightstown - Jersey Girl) won first-out for Barclay Tagg at 10-1 odds. 

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Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races:

*Hula Chief (Haw):  Lissa's Star (R. Brueggemann/I. Karlsson) - 106

*Louisiana Derby (FG):  Friesan Fire (J. Jones/G. Saez) - 104
*Cicada (Aqu):  Heart Ashley (S. Asmussen/C. Lopez) - 104
*Gulfstream Park (GP):  Smooth Air (B. Stutts Jr./P. Lopez) - 104
*New Orleans (FG):  Macho Again (D. Stewart/R. Albarado) - 103
*Santa Margarita (SA):  Life Is Sweet (J. Shirreffs/G. Gomez) - 102
*Rebel (OP):  Win Willy (M. Robertson/M. Berry) - 102
*Inside Information (GP):  Game Face (T. Pletcher/J. Velazquez) - 101

*Mervyn Muniz Jr. Memorial (FG):  Proudinsky - GER (R. Frankel/V. Espinoza) - 99
*Duncan F. Kenner (FG):  Sok Sok (S. Asmussen/S. Bridgmohan) - 99
*Fair Grounds Oaks (FG):  Rachel Alexandra (H. Wiggins/C. Borel) - 97
*Turf Dash (Tam):  Castles in the Sky (J. Ness/D. Centeno) - 96
*Kim's Chance (Aqu):  Mor Chances (R. Dutrow Jr./R. Migliore) - 96
*Bill Thomas Memorial (Sun):  Wind Water (C. Hartman/K. Tohill) - 96
*Bienville (FG):  Coy Cat (P. McGee/R. Albarado) - 92
*Moscow Burning (SA):  Dawn After Dawn (J. Sadler/J. Rosario) - 92
*Hillsborough (Tam):  Backseat Rhythm (P. Reynolds/E. Coa) - 91
*Mesa (TuP):  Shesa Private I (B. Hone/J. Barton) - 91
*Florida Oaks (Tam):  Don't Forget Gil (M. Hennig/R. Maragh) - 90
*Palm Beach (GP):  El Crespo (G. Arnold II/J. Castellano) - 90
*Conniver (Lrl):  Fancy Diamond (C. Lynch/H. Vega) - 90
*Work the Crowd (GG):  Lady Railrider (S. Specht/R. Alvarado) - 90
*Tampa Bay Derby (Tam):  Musket Man (D. Ryan/D. Centeno) - 90
*San Felipe (SA):  Pioneerof the Nile (B. Baffert/G. Gomez) - 90

*Pasadena (SA):  Gallant Son (F. Lucarelli/A. Solis) - 89
*Honeybee (OP):  Just Jenda (J. Jones/G. Saez) - 89
*Herecomesthebride (GP):  Gozzip Girl (T. Albertrani/E. Trujillo) - 88
*Tempe (TuP):  Lesson in Deceit (R. Stevens/J. Barton) - 85
*Irish O'Brien (SA):  Christiana's Heat (S. Knapp/M. Baze) - 84
*Budweiser-Tondi (Fon): The Nutz (S. Hall/D. Leeds) - 83

*Bueno (TuP):  Beautiful Holiday (D. McFarlane/E. Garcia) - 75
*Scottsdale (TuP):  Woody's Bluff (D. Sowers/R. Eikleberry) - 70

*Bachman (Fon):  Turkey Hunter (J. Thomas/A. Martinez) - 68

*Oregon Oaks (PM) - Nikki S. (B. Root/D. Hoonan-Trujillo) - 54

Here are the lifetime past performances of the highest and lowest Beyer stakes performers of the week:

Download Lissa's Nikki  


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Congrats to Burt for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He selected race nine at Laurel for Wednesday's race.  I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but 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.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought process about wagering, it would be appreciated.  Here are the past performances for Wednesday's race:

Download HandiGambling 125

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Back next time with questions, comments, and more.

Take care,

Dan