04/01/2013 11:26AM

Trip Notes: Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, and more


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fair Grounds
Fair Grounds Oaks (race 7)

Unlimited Budget made it a perfect 4 for 4 with another smart performance, and along with stablemate Dreaming of Julia (and maybe Princess of Sylmar as well) gives trainer Pletcher a very strong hand for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks May 3. She romped over many of these in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra here Feb. 23 and validated that run here. She got a great trip stalking in 3rd, stayed wide to have clear sailing, pounced on tiring pacesetter So Many Ways into the lane and edged clear. Flashy Gray, 2nd at 2-5 in Oaklawn’s Grade 3 Honeybee March 9, sat just behind So Many Ways, tried to make a move into the lane, and kept on well, though she was unable to stay with the winner. It didn’t help that her rider lost the whip in midstretch, though she wasn’t going to beat Unlimited Budget anyway. She was the early favorite in the Kentucky Oaks future wagering and did nothing here to believe she can’t be a player there. Seaneen Girl sat back and made decent headway for 3rd so she was never really a threat. So Many Ways, winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway last summer, went right out to set the pace but weakened once headed by the top 2 into the lane. That makes for 2 modest outings this year and may not be enough to send her to Louisville. Blue Violet made a mild move turning for home but faltered. These waters appear too deep at this stage of the .

Fair Grounds
New Orleans Handicap (race 8)

Graydar backed up his huge Grade 1 Donn win and showed he’s not just a Gulfstream specialist as he gamely prevailed in a very strong race – but it wasn’t easy. As usual he used his speed but instead of being on the lead he was quite comfortable stalking in 3rd. He stayed wide to remain in the clear, moved up to make it a 3-way fight in midstretch and gamely outfinished a stubborn Mark Valeski. Mark Valeski dogged pacesetter Majestic Harbor, moved up to grab the lead as that foe tired into the lane, was immediately tackled by Graydar and Bourbon Courage, stayed on gamely but just couldn’t quite keep up with Graydar late. He showed he belongs in the discussion of top handicap dirt horses. Bourbon Courage ran another good race as he stalked midpack, came roaring up to challenge the top 2 by midstretch but couldn’t pace late. He may finally have found his ceiling. Flat Out sat back, as usual and never really made a run. Not only is he likely better on the bigger sweeping New York tracks but could be time is finally catching up to the 7-year-old. Cool Street, previously 4 for 5 here with the lone blemish being a near-miss 2nd to Mark Valeski in the Grade 3 Mineshaft here Feb. 23, was last early and never made a move. After a busy campaign this may be a sign he’s due for a freshening.

Fair Grounds
Louisiana Derby (race 9)

Revolutionary punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby and capped off an amazing day for trainer Pletcher. Revolutionary, winning his 3rd in a row, has often found trouble in his races but that wasn’t the case today He was wonderfully behaved in the paddock. He broke a bit slowly, sat well back early, stayed wide and in the clear, was very wide on the far turn as he made his charge, grabbed the lead, looked beaten when Mylute came up alongside and actually went past, but re-rallied to get the win. The time was much slower than what elder Graydar did about 30 minutes earlier (1:49.16/1:50.26). However, he’s shown guts on more than one occasion, something not to take lightly come the first Saturday in May. Mylute was far back early as well, followed Revolutionary on the turn and into the lane, surged up alongside and briefly grabbed the lead but couldn’t outgame the winner late. Departing sat midpack and kept to his task well, though this was basically a 2-horse race in the final furlong. Code West stalked in the 3rd, looked dangerous as he moved closer on the far turn but flattened out. Palace Malice was brutally unlucky He sat back, was making a move into the lane when completely blocked and never had room to run late. Titletown Five dueled on the pace but gave way. It was his first route, so you can be a bit forgiving. While he is by Tiznow, which should help him handle a distance, this may be a bit beyond him at this stage of the game.

Fair Grounds
Mervin Muniz Jr. (race 10)

Amira’s Prince continued his ascent. The colt had done some good work in Ireland but has come to the U.S. and blossomed as he’s now 4 for 4 on this side of the pond. He looked super easily winning the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Feb. 16 and was impressive again here, though he had to fight hard to keep the win. He used his speed to duel early with String King, took over pacesetting duties after a half-mile while being pressured, was able to crawl along through slow splits, edged away into the lane and then fought gamely to keep hard-charging Willcox Inn at bay. The Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4 could be next. That will be a brutally tough spot. Willcox Inn was midpack early, crept closer as the race progressed, doggedly went after the winner in the lane but just couldn’t get to him. String King pressured the winner early, couldn’t keep up late but stayed on gamely for 3rd. Doubles Partner sat midpack and made only modest headway. Optimizer, so impressive winning his last 2 starts here, both Grade 3’s, broke slowly and never got involved. In defense of he and Doubles Partner ,they were trying to catch fresh horses who had set slow splits up front.

Rampart (race 4)

Ciao Bella flashed big promise when a romping winner in her debut here in December 2011 but hadn’t quite been able to get over the hump. Well, that may have changed with blinkers added, as after a romping win here Feb. 18 with shades on she notched her first graded win here. She bounced right out to the lead, was able to set very slow splits and bounded away to win easily. She’s now 3 for 3 here and trainer Pletcher said he wasn’t quite sure what would be next. Nice as this was, this was a weak renewal and doesn’t necessarily mean she’s ready for the big girls. Authenticity stalked in 4th, tried to make a run at the winner into the lane, was no match but finished far clear of the rest (11 1/2 lengths). Successful Song chased the winner from the start but weakened from those efforts.

Gulfstream Park Oaks (race 8)

Dreaming of Julia couldn’t get to Live Lively in the Grade 2 Davona Dale here Feb. 23 but she turned the tables and then some, stamping herself a major player for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks May 3 with an overwhelming performance. The daughter of A. P. Indy again chased Live Lively from the start but this time she easily moved up to challenge that foe on the turn, took command and drew off to win by the length of the grandstand (21 3/4 lengths) in a dazzling display. Her time was much faster than what older Ciao Bella did while winning the Grade 2 Rampart a couple hours earlier (1:48.97/1:50.06) and her mile split was faster than what some sharp older males ran for their final time an hour earlier (1:36.12/1:36.24). Question is, did she just freak or did her rivals just not show up? Live Lively, who led all the way to win the Davona Dale, again used her speed, going right to the lead. She set a modest pace, looked poised for when Dreaming of Julia came to her but was no match whatsoever for that foe from the far turn home. Cue the Moon, making her first start since finishing a game 2nd in the Grade 3 Tempted Nov. 4, chased the top 2 early and plugged along decently for 3rd. Emollient was the big disappointment as the much-fancied daughter of Empire Maker was 4th early and never really made a move.

Orchid (race 9)

This race appeared to be a summit to see if Starformer or Aigue Marine could take control of the distaff distance division out East. Well, Regalo Mio had other ideas, posting an upset as the aforementioned pair never got involved. Freshened since a win in the Sunshine Millions F&M Turf here Jan. 19, Regalo Mio bided her time as is her custom, swung very wide into the lane as she commenced her run, and continued on strongly to win going away. A race like the Grade 3 Bewitch at Keeneland at 1 1/2 miles April 25 may be next. Angegreen, 2nd to Starformer in the Grade 3 The Very One here Feb. 16, continued her improvement since coming from Italy where she was Group 2-placed, as she was last early but put in a strong sustained run from the far turn home. Irish Mission sat midpack, moved closer going down the backside, moved up to challenge into the lane, grabbed the lead in midstretch, was no match for the winner and only lost 2nd in the final stride. Starformer, coming off 2 big Grade 3 stakes wins, stalked the pace, got shuffled back turning for home, looked back on track when making a threatening move into the lane but flattened out. Aigue Marine, favored off a smashing optional claiming win here March 7, sat back, made a mild move on the turn but then fell away.

Skip Away (race 10)

Cigar Street showed he’s the real deal as he made it 3 straight wins while notching his first graded stakes, and in doing so signaled he may be ready to dive into the deep end of the pool. The son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense sat midpack early, moved closer to get a nice stalking position going down the backside, went after leader Take Charge Indy into the lane, got the better of that foe and edged clear. Take Charge Indy, coming off 2 smart placings in Grade 1’s, seemed ready to take advantage of the drop but may have run into another Grade 1 horse in Cigar Street. He went right out to the lead, set modest splits, battled back when hooked by Cigar Street into the lane but couldn’t quite keep up while much the best of the rest (6 3/4 lengths). Pants On Fire dogged Take Charge Indy from the start, moved closer to challenge turning for home but couldn’t keep up with the top 2 in the lane. Golden Ticket, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Travers in a dead heat with Alpha, lagged back, made a mild move on the turn and into the lane but flattened out and was never really a threat.

Appleton (race 11)

Za Approval was a bit troubled late when 4th behind Joes Blazing Aaron (2nd) and Beau Choix (3rd) in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf here Feb. 23 but a better trip got the son of Ghostzapper his revenge. He lagged back, as is his custom, as King Kreesa set a fast pace, swung very wide into the lane, surged to grab the lead by midstretch and kept hard-charging Beau Choix at bay. This doesn’t mean he wants to deal with Wise Dan, Turallure, Data Link, Suggestive Boy or Jeranimo, but he can surely do some damage in the right spots. Beau Choix ran well yet again as the veteran lagged back and finished strongly for 2nd. He appears to be as sharp as ever at age 6. King Kreesa, making his first start of the year, set the pace under some pressure from Decisive Moment, opened up turning for home but couldn’t fend off the top 2. Silver Max, one of the best 3-year-old turfers last year who was making his 4-year-old debut, sat midpack and never really made a move is a bit of a disappointing run. Omayad, a top-class runner in Chile in 2011 when he won multiple Group 1’s and who flashed talent in the U.S. last year, was away slowly to be last, was still last turning for home and only managed to pass a couple foes who had weakened so this wasn’t the most encouraging outing.

Florida Derby (race 12)

Depending on what Verrazano does in the Wood you may well have seen the Kentucky Derby favorite here as Orb looked super powering home to win fairly easily over a good group. Winner of the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Feb. 23, the son of Malibu Moon sat midpack early though not that far off a modest pace, steadily advanced to the far turn, continued his nice wide run, collared Itsmyluckyday in midstretch, pushed past and edged clear. He’s now won from well off a fast pace and from stalking what was here a modest pace, so he’s handy. Next stop: Louisville. Itsmyluckyday didn’t do anything wrong in defeat. Big winner the Grade 3 Holy Bull here earlier this meet, he stalked the pace, moved up eagerly to challenge into the lane but couldn’t outfinish Orb. No reason to think he shouldn’t go on to Louisville. Merit Man, generally assumed to be a sprinter, ran splendidly as he dueled on the lead with Narvaez and while no match for the top 2 stayed on well. They have no Derby aspirations with him but their placement here was wonderfully astute. Shanghai Bobby seemed in a great spot stalking the pace while on the rail, appeared to be traveling well but once pitched out on the far turn for what looked like the start of a rally but when and asked for run came up empty. He may have been exposed distance-wise and with Pletcher having so many other Derby aspirants that may mean this guy may instead target a race like the Grade 1 Met Mile.

Sam More than 1 year ago
Verrazano is greatly over-rated. He wins an O/C; then the Fla.Derby where he had no competition; Now the Wood where he faces Vyjack , the apparent second choice. Pletcher has always kept this horse away from strong challengers. He may win the Wood by 10 lengths, but he won't even be part of the superfecta in the Derby.
geno More than 1 year ago
He won the TB Derby!
Stanley More than 1 year ago
Mark, thank u 4 good luck wishes re Orb. I have been following him since Saratoga. After his maiden win at Aqueduct it was hoped he would win an allowance race this winter in Florida. It has been a one time experience how he exploded with talent once in Florida. He is from 8-c branch and from family of greatest filly ever-RUFFIAN ps hope to see his relative Air Support run soon
Mark More than 1 year ago
good luck stanely . you ll need to find another6 -8 lengths .
Mark More than 1 year ago
While I certainly think distance will help him and move him up a couple after two equal speed figs i still IMO think he s just not fast enough.
Felton Suthon More than 1 year ago
Still confused as to why Itsmylucky day rated at 1:12+ insteadof running his race up front. Probably did not make a difference, but stil....
Mark More than 1 year ago
Two fillies ran faster than orb did in winning the Florida derby. Good luck to those who have him on top in Kentucky.
UKBBALLFANNO1 More than 1 year ago
Good point, but as the racing adage goes "pace makes the race" and the pacemakers in the FL. Derby were 130-1 and 29-1 so there not exactly speed demons. With that said, my MAIN CONCERN about Orb is his sire, Malibu Moon, who has only 4 stakes winners from 3 crops with Life at Ten being the best other than Orb, and she definitely had distance limitations.
Mark More than 1 year ago
the pace setter WAS a sprinter ! And although the fractions were not blazing orb was closer than he has been to front runners . Johnny didn't want imld to get away at top of the stretch off moderate pace . He had no worries imld did not run his top race . And I suspect the added ground also slowed him down . So the fact the pace was moderate has no barring on final time as Orb layed closer to the pace and had shorter groung to make up. his final time was slow . period .
Sam More than 1 year ago
Secretariat's Belmont display excepted, the timing of the race depends on the pace setters. If they are speedster in a distance race, and a stalker lays off the pace and then comes on to win, his time will be great; if the pace setters are slow, and the stalker bides his time ,the race time will be slow. Stick with Orb.
Mark More than 1 year ago
I ll use him underneath in 3 and 4 spots .
ghost2_ More than 1 year ago
And that's why all the people who bet the horses with the fastest times at certain distances are all millionaires. You must be a racing newbie.
Mark More than 1 year ago
I feel I've never told you the story of the ghost that I once knew and talked to ..
Lawrence Vaccarelli More than 1 year ago
time only matters if your in jail...its who you beat and how you did it that counts..and that's 40 yrs plus of watching races that speaks
Mark More than 1 year ago
And he beat two absolutely dead horses in a slow time .
Mark More than 1 year ago
Take a look at how plesahorse ran against ciao Bella. Folded like a cheap suit while sitting off of soft fractions. She had very similar running lines as imld. A handful of so so races to start career . Then in her last two prior to Saturday they were winning efforts @ Gulfstream in which she set career top #ers. Don't be fooled by the margin of orbs win . He was passing two absolutely dead horses. One a sprinter and one who was clearly not on his a game. The truth lies in the time. Nice honest professional horse by top shelf connections yes . IMO not many that he doesn't beat . Just think IMO the derby winner is running this weekend or possibly at hot springs. Good luck.
Mark More than 1 year ago
And that's with 30+ years
Mark More than 1 year ago
All you time jail guys who think you know and have orb winning the derby will be ripping up your tickets after the Kentucky derby. Comparing times from different tracks or even same track on different days is not a winning move. In fact I rarely even look at final times . This past Saturday this is no t the case . Three races over same surface at same distance. All three won by different type of runner. Meaning track played even. Ciao on front going 1:12 6f Julia sitting 2 lengths off 1:11 and orb 4 lengths off a 1:13 sprinter . Orb was slowest . This is not the sole reason I believe he isn't the derby winner. More like the final nail in the coffin. I don't rate the field as a whole as strong in comparison as to what we will see this weekend and maybe in Arkansas. Bobby we all knew was up against it all winter because of the distance. So though imld beat him in track record time I didn't rate that as high as a lot of others. The BC juvy has comeback as absolute throw out . A key bad race. And as we saw in new mexico track records too are subject to the time only matters in jail thing u guys all chirp about. Also in FD mild was clearly not 100% so along with the slow time orbs 3 + length score was falsely visually impressive as he past two absolutely dead horses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jst think how happy Todd must be not having to ride Rosie
scott More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just think how hppy
Derek More than 1 year ago
Grade 1 Met Mile for Shanghai Bobby who could get competitive in a 1.12 six furlongs......I don't think so! Either his run was too bad to be true (possible) or he was simply a precocious 2yo (likely)? Time will tell.
Jay Stone More than 1 year ago
Though this response has nothing to do with the above races there is a far more important issue facing racing that needs to be addressed by the drf and other news gathering organizations. The Paulick report today has an article that speaks of a situation that occured many weeks ago at Tampa. A local vet was caught tampering with a horse in a prominent trainer's barn on the morning of the race. The vet, as reported by the Drf and others was immediately suspended and barred from practicing on the grounds. The trainer is still operating without any repercussions as of today. In America you are presumed innocent until proven guilty which is our way of life. In racing jurisdictions a trainer is held responsible for any illegal actions in his barn or within hi or her horses. The trainer responsibility rule is all encompassing and many trainers have taken days for infractions that I am sure they didn't initiate but were responsible for. The state of Florida has become the "Wild West" when it comes to handing out suspensions for infractions. This situation at Tampa needs to be addressed immediately for many reasons. The sport doesn't exist without the horses. They are being abused by certain trainers. Secondly the sport doesn't exist without the bettors who have lost confidence in the sport because of the absence of control by the regulators. Third and finally the sport doesn't exist without the owners who are going broke because of the actions by some vets and trainers that abuse certain rules of what should and shouldn't be done by them to keep a horse running and winning. This sport badly needs a national set of rules on what should or shouldn't be allowed to be done to these horses. There needs to be a standard medication policy that works and a standard group of penalties for abusers. In the Tampa situation most parties had either no comment or blamed the state. There was a large ammount of innuendo involving social connections that should have nothing whatsoever to do with what is right or wrong. The track has house rules and can initiate any action it deems fair. The public demands that action includes the trainer taking a vacation as well as the vet. Let them have their day in court but anyone who believes this vet was acting on his own is an idiot. I haven't named any names here because i believe the principle of inaction is just as important as the names. The Paulick report names the individuals but most in racing know the situation. If Richard Dutrow can in essence be barred for life for what he did then this individual can at the very least be escorted off the grounds of Tampa as well as other jurisdictions for what she may have done. If it is proven in court or a hearing that the vet did everything on his own then she should be welcomed back. This individual case and others that have come up are driving good owners and lucrative gamblers from a sport that needs both. The state fo Florida has no racing commission as such but time has come for a federal agency to take on some of theses issues with qualified people such as vets, trainers, lawyers, and law enforcement officials-
Edward More than 1 year ago
Literally, not one single person is going to read your post. It is self-indulgent and pathetic that you would think that it is appropriate to write a comment longer than the article. No one cares.
Horse 2win More than 1 year ago
Exactly, people don't care but should, I agree on some of Jay's points the most important one is that we have ONE governin body to oversee horse racing that jurisdiction is throughout the U.S. with penalties ahnded out to it th crine, no more slap of the hand when it comes to cheating but I'm only one, oh two Jay and mysef that has this opinion.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Three. And Cibelli is the "trainer". Who needs to go. Injecting a knee day of a race.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Good ole Jane. 10 drug violations in the last 7 years. Seems to like steroids and testosterone. Not surprised that Purple Egg scratched his first two races after trying to kill the pony. Her words by the way. Also holds the distinction of being fined for foul language and obnoxious behavior.
mrm More than 1 year ago
She once trained a horse for me who was "tailing off". After coming off of a win I wanted to drop him in price (7,500 to 5m). She refused saying it wasn't the right thing to do. I guess her philosophy has changed.
Mark More than 1 year ago
I am one ... of many I am sure who agree with Jay.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Make that ... I am 4
Paul G More than 1 year ago
As I understand it, in Germany, you may not breed a racehorse that has ever run on raceday medication. If that is true, all you would have to do is implement that rule here in the U.S. and also a parallel rule that holds the prize purse of winning horses until their blood test clears to end this malarky. We don't need massive government regulations. Control the prize purses and breeding rights and the ownership and trainers will police themselves.
scott More than 1 year ago
I am 100% with you Jay. I bet full time and played some Tampa turf races earlier in the meet. I will NOT spend another dollar at Tampa, period. And to the people below saying, "who cares?" You are reading the comments on a horse racing site and asking who cares about the horses? I respect that Jay is just trying to spread the word about the case at Tampa. I don't want to sound hypocritical by boycotting one track when there are violations at many, but this case at Tampa is just pathetic.
rvraynmary More than 1 year ago
Great work on these recaps.