02/25/2013 10:21AM

Trip Notes: Fountain of Youth, Risen Star, Rachel Alexandra, and more


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Davona Dale (race 9)

Live Lively showed she can be a major player in the 3-year-old filly division with a superb effort here. A monstrous maiden winner here Jan. 1 (by 11 1/4 lengths) she bounced right out to a clear lead and basically played keep-away all the way around, keeping heavy favorite Dreaming of Julia at bay to the line. With the likes of Executiveprivilege, Sign, and Blonde Fog out of action and champion Beholder having lost her first start of 2013, this girl could have a big say in the division. She didn’t miss the track mark by all that much (.49). Dreaming of Julia did nothing wrong in defeat. She sat 2nd a few lengths off the eventual winner, was asked to go after her going to the far turn, doggedly kept to her task but just couldn’t get to the winner. The top two coule be rematched in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Private Affair sat 4th, was asked for run on the far turn, kept to her task well all the way around but wasn’t good enough. These waters may be a tad too deep.

Canadian Turf (race 10)

Data Link sat midpack while saving ground along the rail, was content to bide his time, started to pull himself closer going down the backside while between horses as the field was tightly bunched, moved further out for room on the turn, swung widest of all when straightened away and finished gamely to get the win. After running 3rd in this last year he went on to win the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark at Keeneland  in April and that figures his next target. Joe’s Blazing Aaron went right out to duel early with Global Power, set a solid pace, had the field bunched up right behind him, rebuffed challenges, gamely held the lead in the lane but couldn’t quite finish with the winner. Beau Choix sat well back while saving ground, remained there, made decent headway to the far turn and finished nicely up the rail. Za Approval was at the back of that tightly bunched front pack, moved up nicely between horses to be alongside Data Link, was right alongside that foe turning for home but couldn’t match that runner’s final furlong.

Fountain of Youth (race 11)

Orb was the recipient of a dream pace scenario and took full advantage. In winning his 3rd straight he bided his time well back while Majestic Hussar set a sizzling pace, started his run on the turn, swept up alongside Violence and got the better of that foe in the final furlong. Violence, considered by many as the early Derby favorite, stalked on the rail while Majestic Hussar set a hot pace, was a bit eager and pulling, seemed to relax finally once down the backstretch, went after that rival going to the far turn, had to fight to get past through a dizzying 6-furlong split (1:08.85), but that left him without enough fuel to fend off Orb, though he continued on gamely to the line. Sadly, he came out of the race injured (fractured sesamoid bone in right front ankle) and is out of the Derby picture. Speak Logistics sat well back off the hot splits and finished decently, though this was strictly a 2-horse race in the lane. Majestic Hussar set hot splits and weakened. He’s a fast horse but may simply be better suited to a shorter game. Cerro was near Violence much of way but being so close to that hot pace left his tank empty in the lane.

Fair Grounds
Fair Grounds Handicap (race 7)

Optimizer showed again that in the right spot he can do some damage. While he’s found Grade 1 waters too deep, the son of grass champion English Channel came into this off a smashing win in the Grade 3 Col. Bradley here Jan. 26 and he again dominated. Whereas he led wire to wire that day, this time he didn’t make the early lead. It didn’t matter. He dogged pacesetter Willcox Inn, while staying a few lanes off the rail, move to the inside for the stretch run, came through an opening along the rail to snatch the lead and edge clear. The Grade 2 Mervin Muniz here March 30 figures next. Bim Bam, 3rd to Optimizer in the Col. Bradley, chased that rival again. He was just behind the winner from the start, didn’t accelerate as quickly as that rival but got going well late to grab 2nd. Two Months Rent was last early, made a decent run into the lane but couldn’t sustain it. Willcox Inn set the pace but weakened once headed in midstretch.

Fair Grounds
Mineshaft Handicap (race 8)

Mark Valeski was gallant in defeat to Infrattini in the Louisiana Handicap here Jan. 19 but that was his first start in 8 months so he had a right to improve this time. Improve he did as the Grade 2 winner gained his revenge, winning despite traffic issues. He was eager from the start but was tucked in behind while Hero of Order set a dawdling pace. He remained in a pocket with nowhere to go turning for home, altered course, found a seam and shot through to win. The Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap here March 30 may be next. Cool Street, a true horse-for-course, having won his first 4 starts here, all against weaker, nearly handled the class hike with another fine effort over this track as he bided his time early and finished strongly in a race where the slow pace surely did not help his late kick. Golden Ticket, winner of last summer’s Grade 1 Travers in a dead heat and big winner of an optional claimer at Gulfstream Jan. 26, stalked the slow pace, surged to the lead into the lane but couldn’t sustain his run. Hero of Order, winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby here last year at 109-1, set slow splits, tried to battle back when hooked in the lane but couldn’t keep up. Infrattini pressed the slow pace, loomed a big threat into the lane but gave way in a disappointing run after 4 straight strong wins.

Fair Grounds
Rachel Alexandra (race 9)

Unlimited Budget, easy winner of her first 2 starts at Aqueduct including the Grade 2 Demoiselle, made her seasonal debut, got a dream trip and dominated the proceedings. She bided her time off a hot pace while staying wide and in the clear, saw the speed collapse and took full advantage, roaring past and drawing off to win easily. The Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks March 30 could be next. Promise Me More likewise took advantage of the hot pace of Dancinginthecircle as she was last early and finished well, though she was never really a danger to the winner. Blue Violet likewise lagged back and came with a decent rally. Dancinginthecircle bounced out to a clear lead, set fast splits but paid the price as she weakened in the lane.

Fair Grounds
Risen Star (race 10)

I’ve Struck a Nerve was no factor when 4th in the Grade 3 Lecomte here Jan. 19, but that didn’t matter today as he posted a huge upset. Sent off at 135-1, he was last early, moved a bit closer turning for home while hugging the rail, switched out into the lane and surged home to just get up in time. The Grade 2 Louisiana Derby here March 30 will reportedly be next. Code West, part of the Baffert armada, dueled early with Proud Strike, then with Oxbow, appeared in trouble into the lane but rerallied and just missed in a game try. Palace Malice, routing for the first time, broke a bit slowly to be well back early, made a strong run to loom a big threat turning for home but couldn’t quite sustain his run. Oxbow didn’t repeat his huge Lecomte win as he didn’t get a clear, easy lead. This time he battled early with Proud Strike and Code West, still had enough to have the lead by midstretch but got overtaken late. Normandy Invasion, atop many observers’ Derby list off some strong New York form and making his first start of the year, had a tough trip, so that can excuse his poor result some. He was away poorly and stumbled to be last early, was a bit rank on the first turn while quite wide, stayed quite down the backstretch while still last, moved very wide on the far turn and into the lane and closed decently but it wasn’t enough. It’s far too early to give up on this guy but if he’s to make the Derby he’ll have to run big in his next start as he’s way down on the points list.

Santa Anita
San Carlos (race 8)

Sahara Sky proved his big 21-1 upset in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Jan. 19 was no fluke as he came right back to beat many of the West’s top sprinters again here. The son of Pleasant Tap bided his time early again and commenced a strong wide run into the lane that carried him past his rivals and clear late. As much as he likes it here, the Grade 2 Potrero Grande April 6 may be next. Capital Account was slow into stride early, still last turning for home but finished with good energy to get 2nd. Comma to theTop dueled early with Justin Phillip, dispatched with that foe, had the lead still by midstretch, but couldn’t quite fend off the top 2. The Lumber Guy, the favorite, pressed the pace but gave way readily in a disappointing effort.