01/22/2013 9:47AM

Trip Notes: Lecomte, La Canada, and Palos Verdes

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fair Grounds
Lecomte (race 10)

Oxbow really flattered the form of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity and stamped himself one to watch in this part of the country on the Kentucky Derby trail as he blasted his rivals. A well-beaten fourth in the CashCall Futurity (nine lengths behind unbeaten winner Violence) the son of Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Awesome Again bounced right out to a clear lead, had Heitai move up to challenge turning for home, rebuffed that rival’s bid, and bounded away to win in a laugher. The way he dominated does raise questions: Is he that good or were his rivals that dull? Still, even if you feel it was the latter, he ran much faster than fillies did in the Silverbulletday about 30 minutes earlier. The Grade 2 Risen Star here Feb. 23 may be next. Golden Soul, stepping up off a big maiden win routing here, was last early and steadily advanced and kept to his task, though he wasn’t ever on the winner’s radar. Fear the Kitten, making his first start since running fifth against strong company in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 24, sat midpack and made only modest headway. Avie’s Quality was the big disappointment. Coming off two big wins on Woodbine’s Polytrack, he stalked early but quickly gave way in a dull outing. Could be he didn’t care for racing on dirt for the first time.

Santa Anita
Palos Verdes (race 5)

Sahara Sky posted a 21-1 upset and made a statement that after Jimmy Creed and Fast Bullet the sprint division out West is in a state of flux. Making his first start since finishing a non-threatening fourth to top sprinter Capital Account at Betfair Hollywood Park last June 22 (awarded third via DQ) the son of Pleasant Tap sat well back early while Private Zone and Comma to the Top dueled through sizzling splits, steadily advanced, swung out into the lane, and edged past a tiring Private Zone. It’s no surprise he ran well here as his best work has come over this track (3 wins, 2 seconds from 5 starts). The Grade 2 San Carlos here Feb. 23 could be next. Private Zone suffered yet another close-call defeat. Having run second in the Damascus here Nov. 3, in the Grade 3 Underwood at Hollywood Park on Dec. 2, and in the Grade 1 Malibu, he again used his speed to dart out to contest the early lead with Comma to the Top, dueled through splits, got the better of Comma to the Top into the lane, but those early efforts took just enough out of him as he couldn’t fend off the winner. Justin Phillip, making his first start since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 BC Sprint here Nov. 3, stalked the pace, made a run into the lane, but couldn’t sustain it. The San Carlos could be next for both as well. Drill was the main disappointment as the Grade 1 winner stalked the pace, but then had nothing when it mattered.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Santa Anita
La Canada (race 7)

More Chocolate, making her first start on dirt, relished the footing, posting a mild upset and sort of throwing the distaff route division out West into a bit of a tizzy. Coming off a good third in the Grade 3 Bobby Frankel on turf, the daughter of Malibu Moon pressed the pace, moved up to challenge pacesetter Willa B Awesome on the far turn, got the better of that rival, edged clear, and had more than enough of a buffer to keep the rallying Book Review at bay. The Grade 1 Santa Margarita here March 16 and a likely battle with Eblouissante, Zenyatta’s unbeaten little sister, may be next. Book Review, the favorite off her win in the Grade 1 La Brea (sprint), was slow into stride, as usual, sitting last. She remained there to the far turn, commenced her run and finished well, but never really looked a threat to reel in the winner. She ran well, but could be she’s most effective using her big late gear around one turn. Willa B Awesome, winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks here last March 31, set the pace, battled back when hooked by the winner into the lane, but then weakened. Lady of Fifty was a bit of a disappointment. Coming off two big stakes wins, she sat back just ahead of Book Review but never really mustered a run. Still, unless something went awry, there would be no reason for her to skip the Grade 2 Santa Maria in an attempt to bounce back.

Deaton More than 1 year ago
MH said regarding Avie's Quality: "Could be he didn’t care for racing on dirt for the first time." Concur. First thing I said after the race was won't see him again until Keeneland.
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
Thanks for your observations Mike, shouldbe very interesting with next round of 3yr races, Fear the Kitten was a big question mark for me, thought he would close more soundly could the added distance be better and less for the winner? Time may tell.