01/22/2007 12:00AM

Grapelli one to watch closely from San Rafael

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Santa Anita

Notional won the San Rafael Stakes with authority on Jan. 13, and while the In Excess colt looked impressive at the one-mile distance, he is questionable to reproduce that effort at 1o1/4 miles. Tenfold, who finished second, also appears best suited up to 1 1/16 miles. By Tiznow, Tenfold is out of a half-sister to stakes winners You and I and Chaposa Springs.

The colt to watch coming out of the San Rafael is third-place finisher Grapelli, who is bred to get better with distance. By champion Thunder Gulch, winner of the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Travers Stakes, and sire of champion Point Given, Grapelli is out of stakes winner Bella Bellucci (French Deputy).

Aqueduct

Add Foolish Bid to the growing list of 3-year-olds based in New York who are sorting themselves out to see who should get on the Triple Crown trail.

Foolish Bid won a 1 1/8-mile maiden race by 3 1/2 lengths on Jan. 12 at 10-1. By Maria's Mon (sire of Wait a While and Strong Contender), Foolish Bid is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Miner's Game. While she was not accomplished on the track, Miner's Game was retained by the Phipps family because she is a full sister to Seeking the Gold. Maria's Mon, a champion at 2, has already sired a Kentucky Derby winner in Monarchos.

Two Darley Stable runners, Libertarian and Teide, finished second and third. Libertarian is a colt by Awesome Again and out of the multiple-stakes-winning Pleasant Colony mare Colonial Minstrel. Libertarian has a pedigree to run all day and should only get better with maturity and distance.

Teide is by Mt. Livermore out of the Nijinsky II mare, Cascassi. This female family was cultivated by William Haggin Perry and Claiborne Farm, and Teide's third dam, Desert Love, was a multiple stakes winner. Of the two Darley colts, however, Libertarian is better suited to 1 1/4 miles.

Fair Grounds

Trainer Neil Howard has a good-looking 4-year-old colt in Best Years, who won a mile and 40-yard maiden race on Jan. 8 by 9 1/2 lengths. Owned by Mill House, Best Years is by the versatile stallion Pulpit, and out of an Alydar mare from a superior female family. His dam, Alive With Hope, was stakes-placed four times, and his third dam, Special Account, was a full sister to Numbered Account, a champion 2-year-old filly and exceptional broodmare. Heritage of Gold also comes from this family that is known for producing high-class individuals.

* Silk Queen scored a 14 3/4-length victory in a six-furlong maiden race on Jan. 8 and the Bobby Frankel-trained 4-year-old filly has a speed-oriented pedigree (as well as hidden turf), being by Touch Gold out of a Rahy mare. Her second dam is a half-sister to stakes winner and sire French Deputy, who now stands in Japan.

* Touch Gold had another winner on the same day when his 4-year-old filly Provocative Touch won an allowance on the grass at about 1 1/16 miles. Provocative Touch is out of the Turkoman mare Don't Read My Lips, who descends from the influential Darby Dan female line of On the Trail. This outstanding female family produced such notable runners as Dynaformer, Brian's Time, Ryafan, and Monarchos.

* Jibboom, a 3-year-old filly making her first start for Frankel, won a maiden race at about 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. By one of Frankel's star runners, Mizzen Mast, Jibboom is out of the Gone West mare Palisade and is a natural for grass. Mizzen Mast is by grass champion Cozzene, and Gone West is a top grass influence. In addition, Jibboom's second dam is by Nijinsky II and third dam is by Nodouble, two prominent turf influences.

Gulfstream

Coming off a fifth at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25, Sacrifice Bunt won a maiden race at 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 12 at 11-1. Sacrifice Bunt, a Bill Mott-trained 3-year-old colt, had to be respected by pedigree handicappers because he is a full brother to Belmont Stakes runner-up Vision and Verse, and was expected to improve with racing. Off last in the 12-horse field, Sacrifice Bunt rallied three wide on the turn and continued his late run widest of all to win going away by two lengths. He is atypical of most sons of Storm Cat, who are known for their speed. He is more in the mold of Cat Thief, Tabasco Cat, and Vision and Verse. Sacrifice Bunt is out of the Private Account mare Bunting, a Greentree Farm mare who was second in the Ashland and Black-Eyed Susan stakes.

* Mandurah, a 3-year-old colt making his career debut for Eoin Harty, looked impressive mowing down Red Missile, another first-time starter from Nick Zito's seemingly endless stable of 3-year-olds, to win a seven-furlong maiden race by three-quarters of a length on Jan. 13. Looking ahead, Mandurah is bred to relish 1 1/4 miles. By A.P. Indy, he has a combination of stamina and high class throughout his pedigree. His dam is by European champion racehorse and sire Machiavellian (the sire of Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry) and his female family produced Swain and Golden Attraction. Sourpower, another Zito trainee who was a promising second in his debut at Calder on Dec. 18, finished seventh as the favorite in a lackluster effort.

* Perfect Forest went straight to the lead and drew off to win a seven-furlong maiden race by 9 3/4 lengths on Jan. 14. Owned and bred by Edward P. Evans, Perfect Forest is by high-speed influence Forestry (the sire of Discreet Cat), and is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Perfect Probe. His second dam, Sangue, was a multiple stakes winner who excelled at longer distances on the grass. While Perfect Forest is primarily bred to be best as a sprinter-miler, he has the coveted Rasmussen Factor, as he is inbred 5x4 to the superior female Sequence. This female family inbreeding pattern is more often than not a barometer of high class, and suggests that Perfect Forest may be able to stretch out to middle distances.

Finishing second was first-time starter Stormy West, a son of Gone West out of the Storm Cat mare Storm Beauty. Storm Beauty is a half-sister to Gold Beauty, a champion sprinter who produced champion Dayjur and prominent stakes winner and producer Maplejinsky.