03/13/2009 2:28PM

Weekend thoughts, etc.

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Let's take a look at a couple of interesting horses gearing up for the plethora of stakes action over the weekend:

Tampa Bay Derby:
I'm a fan of HELLO BROADWAY, but he's likely to take his share of money, and he'll be trying two turns for the first time in the Tampa Bay Derby.  Can he win?  Sure, but I don't think the value will be there.  GENERAL QUARTERS ran a big number in the Sam F. Davis, but you have to question where that race came from, and he enjoyed a good rail-skimming trip from start to finish.  I'll take a shot with BEAR'S ROCKET, the runner-up finisher of the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream on January 31.  That was his first start on dirt, and he showed improved early speed.  I don't think he needs the lead to be effective, and may work out an outside stalking trip here. I like that he shows four five-furlong workouts leading up to the race, and the price should be right.
Selections:  Bear's Rocket, General Quarters, Hello Broadway

Rebel:
Can't get past OLD FASHIONED here.  I don't think he was 100% cranked for the Southwest, and he still made short work of main rival SILVER CITY when the real running began.  I don't think Silver City is going to appreciate this added distance, and newcomer HAMAZING DESTINY is spotting the favorite a good deal of experience.  There's no price to be had, but Old Fashioned may work out a similar track-and-pounce trip in the Rebel, and simply looks too good for these.
Selections:  Old Fashioned, Silver City, Hamazing Destiny

Gulfstream Park Handicap:
BRIBON seems like the ultimate tease.  He looks like a world-beater against allowance competition, but just can't step up his game against the big boys.  I think he'll finally take it to the next level in the one-turn GP 'Cap.  He was caught five paths deep while chasing quick fractions last time out, but was confidently-ridden to upper stretch before turning it on in the lane.  There is speed to set him up, and he is certainly fast enough to win this on his 'A' effort.  COOL COAL MAN, a Gulfstream-loving son of Mineshaft, looms the horse to beat for Nick Zito.  He showed improved speed when turning back in distance for his 2009 debut, but may have been racing on the best part (outside) of the Gulfstream main track on January 28.  The 2008 Fountain of Youth winner seems like a nice fit at a one-turn mile. 
Selections:  Bribon, Cool Coal Man, Formidable

Santa Margarita Invitational:
I'll chalk out with LIFE IS SWEET, who produced a devastating stretch kick to win the La Canada on February 15.  While there's not much pace in the Santa Margarita, Life Is Sweet seems to be loving life on the Pro-Ride, and she should be coming widest and fastest once again under Garrett Gomez.  SANTA TERESITA has better tactical speed than the favorite, and should get the jump on Life Is Sweet turning for hom.  She took down the Santa Maria in nice fashion on Valentine's Day, but you won't get 13-1 on Saturday.
Selections:  Life Is Sweet, Santa Teresita, Magical Fantasy

Louisiana Derby:
I have a tremendous amount of respect for FRIESAN FIRE.  His tactical speed reminds me of Funny Cide's, and he's blossomed for Larry Jones at the Fair Grounds.  Still, he has a tendency to get rank in the early portion of his races, and he'll have to be on his very best behavior to beat this contentious field.  I'm a fan of his, but the price may not be high enough.  I'm going to pick a nutty horse on top.  FREE COUNTRY won the slightly slower division of 'n1x' allowance heats for three-year-olds at Gulfstream two back, but that race was enough to make him the betting favorite in the Sam F. Davis.  He didn't do much running in the Davis - some horses don't like Tampa Bay Downs - but he was in and among horses for the majority of the race, and figures to have gained a great deal of experience from the run.  Ken McPeek now adds blinkers to the mix, and Free Country has been working swiftly for this start (presumably while wearing the hood).  He should save valuable ground from his inside post, and the price will be square. 
Selections:  Free Country,  Friesan Fire, Flying Pegasus

Cicada:
LOVE THAT DANCE is one fast filly.  The only reason she was two lengths off the front at the pace call of the New Jersey Juvenile is because she hopped up right at the start.  Once she got going, she effortlessly moved to the lead, and won by open lengths without her rider having to move a muscle.  That race was faster than the colt division run at the Meadowlands on November 7, and Love That Dance should show fresh speed off the bench.
Selections:  Love That Dance, Dream Play, One Smokin' Lady

Palm Beach:
STORMALORY had a lot to do turning for home in his turf debut, but he kicked it into turbo gear in the final furlong to win geared down like a horse with a stakes future on grass.  Trained by Bill Mott, the Storm Cat colt should get some pace to attack in the Palm Beach, and is worth a play right back.  LIME RICKEY and DUKE OF HOMBERG both fit very well, and neither would be a surprise.
Selections:  Stormalory, Duke of Homberg, Lime Rickey

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Dan
If you please, Friesan Fire being a late May foal I heard there is a new rule that horses cannot race in the Kentucky Derby until their ACTUALL foal date, does this prevent him from running on May 2?
crazyrob

I believe the rule states that you have to be at least two years of age from your foal date. I guess it pertains to the 4 1/2 furlong races in Keenleand or early 2 year old races in May.
Causeways37

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Where I keep changing my mind is the other 3. Will Flying Pegasus bounce? The way Cal horses have done going to real dirt (both this year and last) is there any way to leave Papa Clem out? IEAH and Dutrow bought Patena and I'm guessing paid quite a bit. Like him or not, horses do seem to improve for Dutrow (especialy first out) As of my last change  this morning, Patena is "out" but I'll be contemplating right up until the deadline. (The comments about the horses having "issues" by Dutrow are factoring into my decision even though he says the horse is "right" now factored in, but Flying Pegasus is Bris Prime 2nd choice, and I just found out last week what happens when I ignore a Cal horse shipping to dirt so Patena seems like the one to leave out. FEEL FREE TO TALK ME INTO CHANGING MY MIND!
Stephen Taylor

That is a really, really, really tough choice.  I'm a Flying Pegasus fan (should go better in second start back from ankle surgery), and Papa Clem showed grit last time out against I Want Revenge.  Patena's Lecomte race was pretty good, and it's Dutrow so you never know.  Any of the three can win the Louisiana Derby so I don't think you have a bad option.

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Dan,
Now that an auction is being considered for some of the Magna properties do you think Churchill Downs will buy Gulfstream Park?  This would give CD a monopoly on south Florida racing.  Last fall Fair Grounds opened in the middle of November about two weeks earlier than normal.  This early opening had an affect on the horse population at CD's own fall meet.  It appears that we are going to have a nation wide horse shortage at least in 2009.  Del Mar as you may have read is talking about going to a 5 day week. Unless the gentlemman that was considering buying Hialeah decides he wants Gulfstream, who else is out there?
Ray Manley

Considering the economy, I'm not sure anyone else is out there although you would think someone would take a shot at a track with slot machines.  Churchill is the logical name that comes to mind if it comes down to an auction, but this economic crisis may be a stumbling block for even the most well-run, deep-pocketed companies.


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Dan, do you know if Mr. Charleypotatos is still active?
Hairy

Mr. Charlypotatoes has been working regularly at Turf Paradise.

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GQ perked up when Mark Miller took over training from Thomas McCarthy (the owner) and exploded when the blinkers were removed. My concern is a regression now that McCarthy is listed as the trainer again. I know both of them are low profile but any info that can be provided would be appreciated
Mathieu

Miller and McCarthy are a team.  For more information on their working relationship, check out this piece.


http://www.drf.com/drfNewsArticle.do?NID=101757&subs=0&arc=1

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Dan,
I'm up early handicapping this weekend's M5.  Can you please post for the rest of the blog the PPs for Met a Miner, a 6yo mare running in the 1st leg at LRL Saturday.
Alan

Here they are:

Download Met a Miner


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Good luck this weekend.

Dan