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Trip Notes: Rebel Stakes, Inside Information Stakes, Santa Margarita Stakes, and more
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Excelsior Stakes (race 9)
Marilyn’s Guy and San Pablo finished 1-2 a nose apart in the As Indicated here Feb. 18 and they validated that form as they ran 1-2 again. Marilyn’s Guy won twice here in 2011, ran 2nd in a stakes at Laurel last March 26 but was then gone 11 months. He’s come back as good or better than ever as he won the As Indicated off that layoff and notched his first graded stakes win here. He chased pacesetter San Pablo early, made a strong move to the lead on the turn, opened up a big lead into the lane and then had to dig deep as San Pablo came back at him in the final furlong. He’s now 4-for- 5 here (the lone loss being a 2nd) and may be ready to dive into deeper waters. The margin in the As Indicated was a nose and here it was just a neck, so there’s not much between these 2. San Pablo ran yet another strong race as the son of Jump Start set the early pace, relinquished the lead to Marilyn’s Guy on the turn, seemed in trouble when that foe then opened up but then doggedly went after him in a fine try. Norman Asbornson, coming off a romping win at Parx, showed he may be peaking as he sat midpack and kept to his task well. Redding Colliery stalked in 3rd, seemed poised to pounce but just never produced the needed run. Inherit the Gold, romping winner of this last year, lagged back and never made a move in a disappointing run.
Inside Information Stakes (race 10)
Musical Romance, last year’s champion female sprinter primarily on the strength of her win in the Grade 1 BC F&M Sprint, got a better trip and back on track after stumbling badly at the start of Jan. 28 Sunshine Millions F&M Sprint here and finishing fourth. This time she got away in much better order, bided her time in 4th and came home resolutely to wear down a stubborn longshot Hot Summer. Hot Summer stalked the pace, made a smart run to the lead into the lane, seemed poised to post a huge 55-1 upset but just couldn’t fend off Musical Romance. Groupie Doll, dropping after facing top distaffers Awesome Maria and Royal Delta when 3rd in the Grade 3 Sabin here Feb. 25, sat midpack as the tepid 3-1 favorite, made steady headway late but never really looked a threat to win it. R Holiday Mood dogged pacesetter Funny Sunny into submission but got a bit weary from those efforts.
Azeri Stakes (race 8)
Tiz Miz Sue couldn’t handle Absinthe Minded in the Pippin or Bayakoa here earlier this meet, but the she gained her revenge and likely stamped her ticket to next month’s Grade 1 Apple Blossom with a strong rallying upset. She bided her time as favored Absinthe Minded and She’s All In dueled early, pounced on the leaders into the lane, took over and drew off to win smartly. She’s All In went right out to duel with Absinthe Minded, put that gal away into the lane but was no match for the winner. Joyful Victory stalked the pace, loomed a big danger into the lane but couldn’t sustain her bid. She’s done her best work on this track but off this seems less likely now to go in the Apple Blossom – and stablemate and HOY Havre de Grace may now be pointed there to defend her title. Absinthe Minded, 3rd in this last year and coming off 2 wins over the 1-2 finishers here, was disappointing as dueled with She’s All In and weakened.
Rebel (race 10)
Secret Circle gave Bob Baffert a 3rd straight Rebel (Lookin at Lucky in 2010, The Factor in 2011) and handled his latest step-up in distance. He showed a bit more patience as he stalked the pace in 4th, had some traffic issues when wanting to launch his bid on the turn, found clear sailing, reeled in Scatman in late stretch and had enough to get to the line before the hard-charging Optimizer. Still, whether he wants to farther is a question: his final time (1:44.55) was a second slower than what 5-year-old mare Tiz Miz Sue required to win the Azeri about an hour earlier (1:43.58). He’ll reportedly return here for the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby April 14. Optimizer flattered El Padrino as after finishing 9th to that foe in the Grade 2 Risen Star he finished full of run but just ran out of ground. He’ll come back in the Arkansas Derby, too. Scatman, narrowly beaten by Secret Circle in their division of the Southwest, dueled early with Unbridled’s Note, had no trouble putting away that rival, opened up into the lane but weakened in the final furlong. Jake Mo, who rallied for 2nd to Castaway in the other, slower Southwest division, sat midpack and finished decently. Sabercat, making his first start of the year after a smashing win in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot Nov. 19, was far back early and made little headway in a disappointing run. He’s still slated for the Arkansas Derby.
Santa Margarita Stakes (race 8)
Include Me Out relished the sloppy going as she easily took control of this race. She chased pacesetter and heavy favorite Ellafitz through solid splits, had no trouble taking over from that rival turning for home, opened up and didn’t have a nervous moment thereafter. It’s no surprise she loved the wet going – she romped in her only other wet-track start, and interestingly she was the only one in the field to wear mud calks. Love Theway Youare lagged back in the small field and plugged along to get 2nd, though she was never really even on the winner’s radar. Miss Mittagong stalked in 3rd, tried to make a run at the winner turning for home but flattened out. Ellafitz, previously the queen of the West Coast distaff contingent, set the pace as expected but gave way readily once headed. Could be she didn’t care at all for the sloppy track. Hopefully this was just a result of her not handling the footing.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Honey Fox Stakes (race 10)
Tapitsfly won the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2009. She missed all of 2010 and while she had a decent 2011 you had to wonder if she would ever deliver on that initial promise. Well, she took a step in that direction with her first graded stakes win. After a couple months off she was a strong 3rd in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River here Jan. 7. Freshened since, she bided her time midpack while racing out in the clear, moved up steadily into the lane and finished smartly to past her foes. Bay to Bay, making her first start since running 5th in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland last Oct. 8, was just in front of Tapitsfly early, moved earlier to stalk, loomed a big threat into the lane but couldn’t outfinish the winner. La Reine Lionne, who finished 2nd a nose in front of Tapitsfly in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River, dogged pacesetter Romacaca from the start, dispatched with that rival into the lane but just couldn’t fend off the top 2. Future Generation, a Group 3 winner over boys in Ireland last summer and favored of a big win in her U.S. debut here last month, was well back turning for home before she got going to close well, though it was far too late and she was never really a threat.