04/26/2014 11:25AM

Free’s review: Robo Girl wins 2-year-old opener


Baby race recap

It is becoming a tradition for trainer Gary Sherlock. One year ago on April 25, Sherlock won the first 2-year-old race of the 2013 Southern California season with Pay the Debt. On Friday, he won the first 2-year-old race of the season, race 1, with Robo Girl ($11).

Robo Girl, by Bushwacker, was not a total surprise. In a post-race interview, Sherlock suggested he knew she had speed.

“We never really let her run in the morning,” he said.

So how can a bettor know what transpires in the morning? Sometimes you have to lean on a creditable workout analyst. Andy Harrington of National Turf described the 50.80 gate work April 19 by Robo Girl: “Popped the gate like a speedy sort.” Robo Girl popped the gate in the race and cruised by 4 1/2 lengths with a 47 Beyer Speed Figure.

The 4-5 favorite City Ride broke inward, got shuffled back early, and was never a factor. Bad trip, have to give her another chance. Take Back Spring was bumped and off slowly. She never made a run and finished fourth. She also deserves a second look next out.

What is the long-term significance of early-season maiden races for 2-year-olds? A year ago, on April 26, 2013, a field of nine raced 4 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park. The race was won by Time for a Hug. The runner-up was California Chrome.

Claim game

The favorites ran poorly in race 3, a $12,500 claiming sprint for fillies and mares. Magic Number finished fourth and was claimed by Steve Miyadi in a seven-way shake. The favorite, Addendum, ran worse, finishing sixth while attracting no claims. The winner, She’s a Go Girl, was claimed by Robertino Diodoro, who made two claims Friday. Both won. Diodoro also claimed race 8 winner Kozani for $50,000.

Race 5 contender Dunmore East finished a dull ninth in the $12,500 claiming sprint. There were seven claims. Dean Pederson won the shake, but the claim was voided when Dunmore East was “unsound” afterward. He returns to Vann Belvoir. Runner-up Newfound Gold was claimed in a two-way by Tim Yakteen. On paper, a good claim. He set a fast pace, shook off his rival, and finished more than two lengths clear of third.

Tough trip

Even-money favorite Rookie Sensation hoped for a clean trip in the Grade 3 Last Tycoon at 1 1/8 mile on turf, race 4. He did not get it.

The pace was slow (49.75 seconds and 1:13.58. He was blocked behind rivals into the lane, remained buried until the eighth pole, switched outside, exploded, but fell short by a head and a neck. His third-place finish was his second straight tough trip. A Grade 2 winner last fall over 3-year-olds, Rookie Sensation is a good one for trainer John Shirreffs. He also is extremely unlucky.

The winner was Quick Casablanca, who closed from behind the slow pace but was never stopped. Nice ride by Joe Talamo and nice training job by Ron McAnally, who has a bevy of good South Americans (Miss Serendipity, Safety Belt, sidelined Suggestive Boy). Quick Casablanca returned $34.60, making his first start since November. He was a two-time Group 1 winner in South America.

Fire With Fire set a dawdling pace (49.75 and 1:13.58) and finished second. The others were of no consequence, including Lakerville, who is best as a closing sprinter.

Tale of trips

Handicappers who watched a replay of Magic Mark’s most recent start (March 29, race 6) knew he had no shot. Trapped inside, throwing his head around, visibly uncomfortable, he finished seventh by more than 14 lengths.

Magic Mark returned at the same N1X class level in race 7, and this time, he pressed the pace racing in the clear. The result was a 5 1/2-length victory and a massive win payoff of $17. That does not happen often – a “trip horse” at a big price. Magic Mark ran fast, one mile in 1:36.16, and earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

As for race 7 favorite I Don’t Care Who, he was compromised by the same type of trip that Magic Mark endured previously. I Don’t Care Who, favored at 8-5, was trapped inside, throwing his head around, rank, and visibly uncomfortable. Throw out his fifth-place finish and take a close look at him next time in a similar allowance.

Pick 6 carryover

Friday was the first day of the first spring-summer meet, the first twilight card of the season (3 p.m. first post), and the first pick six carryover. All pick six tickets were already dead going into the final race, and the carryover into Saturday was $61,540.

Horses to watch

Trainer: Robertino Diodoro
Last race: April 25, race 3
Finish: First by three lengths
Beyer: 83

This $12,500 claiming filly set the pace under pressure, shook away in the lane, and won clear. Claimed by Diodoro from Adam Kitchingman, she can repeat on the raise.

Trainer: Mike Puype
Last race: April 25, race 6
Finish: Second by a head
Beyer: 85

Away eight months, this filly set the pace in an N1X turf sprint but got collared on the line in a terrific comeback. With a race under her belt, she could be long gone next out.