03/19/2010 4:22PM

Weekend Stakes Opinions


Five graded races at Gulfstream Park, highlighted by the Grade 1 Florida Derby, take center stage this weekend.

Amen Hallelujah figures to take a good amount of betting action following her triple-digit Beyer win in the one-turn Davona Dale Stakes on February 27, but she's going to have to stretch her ability around nine furlongs on Saturday afternoon, and it's been reported that she'll wear an aluminum pad. 
That may leave things open for Christine Daae, a big-figure maiden winner going seven furlongs at Gulfstream on January 15.  Perhaps more importantly, Christine Daae owns a win at this nine-furlong distance, a facile entry-level allowance score on February 27 in which she was never asked for her best run.  Christine Daae has tactical speed and may work out a good stalking trip behind probable pacesetter Crisp and Amen Hallelujah.
Selection:  Christine Daae

Like most racing fans, I'll be looking forward to the stateside debut of Bambera, the Queen of Venezuelan racing that has won 16 of 18 starts, mostly against males at the highest levels of racing down there.  She loves to hear her feet rattle and she figures to be running and gunning from her advantageous inside post.  It will be interesting to see if anyone goes with her (Champagne Eyes and Unrivaled Belle both have speed).  If she goes off anywhere near her 8-1 morning line odds, she's a very, very attractive play.  I just wonder if she'll be more like 8-5 than 8-1.  She's a horse that shouldn't be discounted in multi-race wagers, but I'll hang my hat on the in-form Aurora Lights, the winner of the Sabin Stakes over a one-turn mile at Gulfstream on February 27.  The Sabin was run at a snail's pace and Aurora Lights raced in-and-among horses at the second of two flights of runners that afternoon.  Once angled into the clear, Aurora Lights wore down the leaders with a workmanlike run.  She's won around two turns and acts like the nine-furlong distance (unfamiliar territory for Aurora Lights) is within her scope.
Selection:  Aurora Lights

This looks like a fun race.  Defending champion Kiss the Kid won last year's Appleton with a perfect trip and he's gone 0-10 since that effort.  While he's an admirable, hard-hitting veteran, one may want to try and beat him once again at possibly short odds. 
I also respect horses like Society's Chairman, who I feel is much better on grass than on polytrack and can improve returning to turf.  But he's seven, running off a layoff, and could be prepping for Woodbine. 
Rahy's Attorney, the 2008 Woodbine Mile winner, didn't run well in his local debut but could be sharper for this.  Still, I'd rather not play short-priced horses off poor performances. 
There are several proven commodities in this race but I'll look for an up-and-comer.  Boots Ahead won a 'n2x' allowance here on February 6 and the lightly-raced four-year-old may move forward off that co-Beyer top.  In that last race, Eddie Castro gave Boots Ahead a nice ride.  After losing ground heading into the backstretch, Castro was able to rate Boots Ahead back a bit and the pair were able to save ground after five furlongs.  Boots Ahead swung out in upper stretch and he was up late despite being bumped nearing the wire.  He loses Castro to Kiss the Kid for the Appleton but Julien Leparoux is certainly a capable replacement.
Selection:  Boots Ahead

I actually prefer those three races to the two marquee events for three-year-olds.  In the Swale, chalky D'Funnybone should be very tough at his preferred distance. 
I don't have much of an opinion on the Florida Derby.  Rule hasn't been headed in his four route appearances but one has to wonder if he'll get more pressure on Saturday afternoon.  Even so, he may have enough to turn back a field mostly full of horses looking to find their way.  I'll take Rule, Radiohead and Miner's Reserve, but won't be doing much with that race. 

Bourbon Bay has been unstoppable since stretching out to 1 1/2 miles and he looms the horse to beat in the San Luis Rey.  Perhaps if anyone can take him down, it will be High Court Drama, who almost parlayed Loup Breton's tough trip into a victory for himself in the Grade 2 San Marcos at 1 1/4 miles.  Unfortunately for High Court Drama, odds-on Loup Breton got out of traffic in the nick of time and the favorite got up in the waning strides.  Since shipping in from his native Ireland, High Court Drama hasn't finished worse than second in three races, two against graded company.  High Court Drama is unproven at 12 furlongs but he shouldn't be far away from Bourbon Bay when the real running begins.
Selection:  High Court Drama

Tuscan Evening looks solid after winning three of her last four outings but I wonder if nine furlongs is a bit beyond her scope.  She's certainly usable but a better price may be waiting for us with General Consensus, an impressive optional claiming winner on January 8.  General Consensus was last on the rail for most of the way, was blocked from midway on the far turn to mid-stretch, and still mowed down her opposition to win by three-parts of a length.  This will be a big jump up in class, but General Consensus seems sharp for Paddy Gallagher.
Selection:  General Consensus

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

Sorry I couldn't get to any questions this afternoon.  I'm swamped.

Back Monday with the weekend recap, comments, and pp requests.

Enjoy the weekend.


Jeff More than 1 year ago
Robert: It's true that it certainly was the case (and sometimes the norm) years ago but those days are loooong gone, except for maybe a horse that is in dire straits due to graded earnings. I believe Don't Get Mad ran in the KY Derby after winning the Trial but he's the exception rather than the rule.
Mickey More than 1 year ago
Jeff: Dan downloaded the pp's for Kim's Chance last year..the battles he had with Sir Ack, I used to follow intently. Back then I didn't realize the difference from statebred to open competition and also the difference in quality. Roman Chef?..yes he was an old statebred claimer. That was my first "watch" horse ever. My grandfather (who got me involved with horse racing)..told me to "watch" for Roman Chef when they switch back to 7F races at AQU (from off the inner track)..and I always remember looking every day at the entries ,before school, to see if this was going to happen. I actually don't remember if it ever worked as this has to be approximately 1980 when he said this.
C More than 1 year ago
vicstu, As I said to tinky, I wasn't defending Nakatani's tactics per se; I'm not 100% sure why he did that and I certainly did not view going for the lead as the "only option" when the gates opened. But once he seized the opportunity that opened up on the inside, he was past the point of no return.
Annie More than 1 year ago
Another brilliant idea from the powers that be: Let's provide UNLIMITED beer refills for $20 in the infield on Preakness Day. I wonder how many sloshed patrons will be trying to run with the horses. Annie
tinky More than 1 year ago
Keith – I don't doubt that Biancone wanted Pulsion to be more forwardly placed, but I don't believe that he was expecting to steal the race with a horse like Rule tracking him. It was a mistake to have gone to the front, and if you have any doubt about the connections' intentions, let's see how he is ridden in his next race (and throughout the rest of his career).
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
Vicstu, Great stuff!!! One area regarding jockey rides where I think you and I disagree is managing a suicidal pace scenario, especially a contested one. I completely agree with most everything you wrote but I do think that a jockey has to step in and try to help a horse avoid a suicidal pace and obviously this is not as tough of a fight against the horse as strangling them back off of a slow pace (i.e. Hard Spun in the Belmont). I think that sometimes jockeys are hoping to teach a horse something but obviously that can be very counter-productive...
Keith L. More than 1 year ago
vicstu, C, tinky: We have to remember that Biancone worked Pulsion from the gate with a 3 furlong tightner the day before the Florida Derby. It seems very plausible to me that faced with the post draw, where he saw two incise and another next to him outside that would be dropping back early, Biancone made a decision to try to capatilize on getting out front on the rail of a speed favoring track, and instructed his jockey likewise. I think, as C points out, that they just might have felt Johhny V was going to rate his horse, and they could gamble that they would prevail in a moderate paced race. Johhny V didn't rate, and Pulsion wound up in a speed duel with one of the best 3 yr old milers in the country, and he prevailed for one mile. Now, he did get $15,000 of graded stakes earning out of this to add to his total, and didn't get beat up trying to nail down fourth or fifth purse monies. He showed a new dimension of excellent early speed, contested, and finished within 6 lengths of the 3rd place heavily favored speed horse. I think the trainer can justly say he did get something out of the race. Will Biancone take this one into the Arkansas Derby or the Bluegrass in three weeks, and if the horse runs well, bring him back in three weeks for a KYDerby try? Well, he's the only TC shooter in his barn, so maybe so. He still is an interesting, and somewhat promising horse, I believe. And, vicstu, nothing wrong with just letting the darned horse run, now, is there? The Pletcher comment about training Rule up to the K Derby, with an eye to getting the horse to change his running style doens't sit very well with me. You do that experimentation before the big one if you are serious about getting the best opportunity to win. Pletcher should know this one isn't about to stay 10 furlongs; Johhny V is probably going to be on another Pletcher charge for the Derby. It is a little like grasping for straws. They were out to try to get Rule a Grade I last Saturday, not condition this horse for a KY Derby run. Now they are up against it, and they would do best to point him to the Preakness, and find another race to run in prior. How about the April 24th Derby Trial, at his favored distance? Makes better sense to me.
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
Van Savant, Apparently Gold Stock did not run for a tag under a "waiver" provision in that race. A great free tool to reseach items like this is on the Equibase home page where you can perform a horse search and are provided with all of the race charts for that horse. I don't know much about the "waiver" conditions as they don't run these at the tracks in which I participate.
Whackymacky More than 1 year ago
Morning All... Magna 5 Results Saturday March 20th Total Pool = $404,750 Winning 5 of 5: 22 Payout : $14,363.30 for a $1 A: Laurel 9th #4 $5.40 B: Santa Anita 5th #1 $11.40 C: Gulfstream 10th #7 $3.00 D: Santa Anita 6th #3 $14.20 E: Gulfstream 11th #8 $43.40 Not to shabby Annie. Monster 3 year old!!! Gulfstream Park #6 TRAPPE SHOT 1/5 SHOT SUNDAY Win : $79,616 Place: $23,172 Show : $169,935 Need to run him in a big race soon!!! Whackymacky Out!!!
C More than 1 year ago
vicstu, I don't know why Nakatani hustled Pulsion from the gate, but once he made the lead, there was no return. Rose did not hustle Jackson Bend from the gate. Compare Rose to the rider of Lost Aptitude, for example. So, considering the first 100 yards of the race, why/how would Rose get JB on the lead at that point from 4 lengths back? Whether or not he should've hustled JB immediately out of the blocks is a different question. He didn't, so he was not committed to the lead, unlike Nakatani.