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Trip Notes: Holy Bull, Santa Monica, and more
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Forward Gal (race 8)
Kauai Katie showed that along with champion 2-year-old filly Beholder she’s at the top of the 3-year-old filly class sprinting as she dominated some overmatched foes. Coming off an 8-length romp in the Grade 3 Old Hat here Jan. 1, she broke sharply from her outside slot, quickly assumed command, set solid splits, was briefly challenged by Pow Wow Wow on the far turn and drew away to win with ease. My Happy Face stalked the pace early, came through along the rail and ran on nicely for 2nd though she was never a threat to the winner. This was a nice first start since she won the Grade 3 Tempted at Aqueduct Nov. 4. Pow Wow Wow chased the winner from the start, made a run at her on the far turn but couldn’t stay with that gal. Spring Venture, trying dirt for the first time, stalked in 3rd but gave way. It’s probably back to grass or synthetic.
Holy Bull (race 10)
Itsmyluckyday showed his big Gulfstream Derby win was no fluke as he toppled previously unbeaten 2-year-old champ Shanghai Bobby and set a track record in the process. The son of champion older horse Lawyer Ron sat 3rd early while Shanghai Bobby set a brisk pace pressured by longshot Clearly Now. He moved up to challenge Shanghai Bobby into the lane and those 2 drew off in a spirited battled with Itsmyluckyday getting the better of his more ballyhooed rival and drawing away late. Shanghai Bobby did nothing wrong in his first start since capturing the Grade 1 BC Juvenile and clinching the 2-year-old title. He went right out to the lead, took pressure from the start, battled back gamely when hooked by the winner but just couldn’t quite stay with him late. Still, he was tons the best of the rest (11 1/2 lengths clear of 3rd). Clearly Now dogged Shanghai Bobby from the start, was no match for the top 2 in the lane but stayed on well for 3rd. Bern Identity, Frac Daddy and Dewey Square were all disappointing as none was really a factor at any point. Frac Daddy had some traffic issues while Dewey Square’s trainer Dale Romans said the horse didn’t like dirt in his face.
Col. E. R. Bradley (race 9)
Originally scheduled for Jan. 19 but was postponed after heavy rains made the turf course unsuitable for racing. The week delay didn’t bother Optimizer in the least as the 4-year-old son of champion grass horse English Channel enjoyed the drop in class (last 3rd in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup) and kept this nice run going for trainer Wayne Lukas. He went right out to the lead, was able to set modest splits, saw the field come to him turning for home but had another gear as he kicked clear for the easy win. The Grade 2 Mervin Muniz here March 14 may be next. String King sat midpack and finished decently though he never really scared the winner. Bim Bam was last early, still well back turning for home and finished with good energy. Strike Impact pressed the winner from the start, moved closer on the turn to threaten but then gave way.
John B. Connelly Turf Cup (race 8)
Swift Warrior, making his first start since finishing a strong close-up 4th (beaten just 3/4 of a length) in the Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill Nov. 25, returned to the tactics that earned him a win in the Rushaway on Turfway’s Polytrack back in March 2011 – using his speed. He bounced right out to the lead from his rail draw, was able to set dawdling splits, met a challenge into the lane from Lockout but had plenty in reserve as he kicked away to win easily. King David bided his time, steadily advanced while saving ground, loomed a threat into the lane but was no match for the winner. Willcox Inn was well back early, still well back turning for home, had traffic issues when starting his run, found a lane and finished well but never really appeared a threat to the winner. Seal Cove lagged back, made a nice wide run into the lane but couldn’t sustain it.
Santa Ysabel (race 4)
Fiftyshadesofhay loved the wet going as she dominated the proceedings. Coming off a dull run in a turf stakes she moved back to dirt and that did the trick. She stalked the pace of Escape Act, took over going to the far turn and drew off to win with ease. The Grade 1 Las Virgenes here March 2 could be next, and she gives Bob Baffert a 3rd big 3-year-old filly out West (Executiveprivilege, Blonde Fog). Heir Kitty bided her time, came with a threatening move while saving ground but was no match for the winner in the lane. Scarlet Strike, the favorite, likewise bided her time and moved in tandem with Heir Kitty but couldn’t sustain her run.
Santa Monica (race 8)
Teddy’s Promise continued her love affair with this track as she made it 4 wins in 7 starts here, dominating the proceedings. She ran 5th in this race last year but appears to have stepped up her game. Coming off a romping win in the Kalookan Queen Dec. 29 (coincidentally on a wet-fast track like today), she stalked the pace of Kindle, moved up to challenge that foe into the lane, took over and drew away to win nicely. The Grade 3 Las Flores here March 10 may be next. Her long-term goal is another crack at the Grade 1 BC F&M Sprint, which will be held here in November. Sugarinthemorning, 2nd in this last year, was just behind the winner early, couldn’t accelerate as quickly that rival but ran on well to get 2nd. Kindle set a brisk pace but the company and 7th furlong may have been a bit much. She may actually be better on turf but she sure handled this footing well. Distracting prompted the pace but couldn’t keep up when the real racing began.
Sure looks like Bobby might be even better rating, but it's too late to try that now, with the new point system. The winner of the BC Juvenile should be automatic. He's now stuck with the go and catch me game until after the derby, or take a chance and try rating in the FOY and hope you can still get in the derby, or miss the derby and go to Pimlico. What's wrong with 3 or 4 races before the derby. I won 5 races on one card and I ran 4 of them the day before. Granted, it was at Yakima Meadows with bottom claimers, but 3 races in 6 months is crazy. These are race horses, look at how the jiggerjoggers train 5 times as hard.
I have a problem with three year old trainer/rider strategy. It came to light with Bodemeister and now with Shanghai Bobby. Put Bodemesiter on the lead, run his legs off and finish second. Bobby, run his legs off and finish second. Obviously the trend to breed for speed has these trainers thinking they can go wire to wire in these distance races and win. And it ain't happening. Teach them to rate, if they're sprinters, stay springing and get this breed improved for durability and stamina, then you can win the derby. Yes, Bobby did do something wrong, tried to win on the lead ala bodemeister. He finished second.
Closer Favorability Ratios for the aforementioned races: Forwards Gal - 28 Holy Bull - 38 Colonel Bradley - 53 Santa Isabel - 73 Santa Monica - 28 All fairly run contests. CFR 90 favors stretch runners.