02/04/2013 10:47AM

Trip Notes: Sam F. Davis, Robert B. Lewis, the Withers, and more


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tobbogan (race 8)

Head Heart Hoof, 7, has been a rugged pro for a long time, but he appears in the best form of his life right now as he notched his first graded stakes win. Coming off a wire-to-wire stakes win here Jan. 9, the veteran used his speed to dog  P J’s Miracle Wink from the start, took over going down the backstretch, and extended his lead into the lane, which gave him enough of a buffer to fend off the hard-charging Johannesburg Smile. Deeper waters could be next in a race such as the Grade 3 Tom Fool here March 2. Johannesburg Smile, a recent $100K claim by Todd Pletcher, was just behind the winner early, didn’t accelerate as quickly as that foe but found his top gear in the lane and finished well but just ran out of room. Sinai stalked the pace and kept to his task well, though he was never really a big danger.

Withers (race 9)

Revolutionary thrust himself right into the thick of the Derby trail discussion with an amazing performance. Coming off a huge maiden win he broke slowly, moved to the rail while sitting back early, remained there to the turn, had to wait for room behind traffic, appeared in deep trouble while racing greenly, but found a seam late and burst through to get up in the final strides and galloped out far clear of the others. You do have to be a tad worried that he’s still quite green and has developed a habit of breaking a bit flatfooted. Not sure he beat all that much here but you had to love the way he did it. Escapefromreality pressed the early pace of Siete do Oros, pulled back into a stalking position, came with a nice run into the lane, grabbed the lead and looked like the winner until Revolutionary surged past. Siete de Oros set the pace, was still on the lead in midstretch but couldn’t quite finish with the top 2. Valid stumbled terribly at the start, going to his nose, to lose all chance. Somehow his rider stayed on. He grabbed a quarter but reportedly will be okay. Long River stalked, was in a threatening position turning for home, but got squeezed off in the upper stretch and gave way. He’s regally bred but apparently not ready for this type of assignment, so it’s back to the drawing board.

Hutcheson (race 10)

Honorable Dillon couldn’t quite handle Singanothersong when they met in a sprint here last month, but he turned the tables on that foe and beat some other smart sprinting 3-year-olds to notch his first graded stakes win. He stalked the pace of Singanothersong, steadily moved closer, went up to challenge for the lead with Undrafted, got the better of that foe and got to the line before an unlucky Forty Tales. Honorable Dillon’s connections said they may stretch him out next, but if they don’t, the Grade 2 Swale March 2 would seem a good fit. Forty Tales, the favorite off 2 straight big wins to start his career, broke slowly, was trapped on the rail while well back, still had a lot to do turning for home, finally found room to get off the rail and finished strongly but just ran out of ground. The Swale seems a logical next spot for him as well. Undrafted chased the pace, moved up to grab the lead into the lane, was still there to deep stretch but weakened a bit late. Merit Man stalked the pace, had to steady going to the far turn to avoid running up on another horse’s heels, was able to get going again but never mustered the necessary rally.

Florida Oaks (race 7)

Tapicat stamped herself a 3-year-old filly to watch with an impressive victory. Coming off a romping turf win at Gulfstream, the daughter of Tapit (cost $725K) again used her speed. She broke poorly but her speed carried her right up to the lead. From there she set a solid pace, drew off in the lane and really didn’t have a nervous moment thereafter as she was clearly best. Kitten’s Dumplings sat midpack and made a nice run into the lane, though she never really was a danger to the winner. Wave Theory was just behind Kitten’s Dumplings from the start and basically ran in tandem with that foe, ending up just a neck behind. Floral Sky sat back, made a nice run into the lane, but couldn’t sustain it.

Endeavor (race 9)

Old Tune, a real hotshot from Brazil (4-time Group 1 winner there), made a most auspicious U.S. debut as she had no trouble beating her rivals here. She volleyed for the lead with Awesome Belle from the start while staying on the rail, took over from that tiring rival into the lane, kicked clear and kept a number of closers at arm’s length. Her original clocking indicated a course record but that was found to be in error. Still, she could turn into an important turf distaffer judging by this first U.S. run. Appealing Cat was just behind the winner early, got shuffled back a bit on the far turn, but came running again to edge 3 others for 2nd, though she wasn’t really a danger to the winner. Last Full Measure sat midpack, was still well back coming into the lane, but finished well. Hooh Why stalked the pace, loomed a threat turning for home but couldn’t sustain her run. Dealbata, the favorite coming off a freshening after running 2nd in a Grade 3 at Belmont Sept. 15, was away slowly to be last early and never made any real headway in a disappointing run.

Sam F. Davis (race 11)

Falling Sky, routing for the first time, had no troubles with the trip as the son of Ky. Derby 2nd Lion Heart made it 3 wins in 4 starts. He used that sprint speed to bounce right out to a clear lead, saw the field creep closer turning for home, but extended his lead again, just enough to give him the necessary buffer to get to the line before a determined Dynamic Sky. He did have to survive a claim of foul from the rider of Speak Logistics, who had to check on the far turn when inside Falling Sky. The Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby here March 9 may be next. Dynamic Sky stalked in 4th, bided his time, went after the winner into the lane and was getting to him but just ran out of ground. The Tampa Bay Derby seems a logical spot for him as well. My Name Is Michael was well back early and finished with good energy, though he wasn’t really a threat. Speak Logistics stalked the pace, moved closer on the turn while inside, had to check when in tight, causing him to lose his action and he was unable to recover.

Santa Anita
Robert B. Lewis (race 4)

Flashback dominated in his first try against winners. He went right to the lead, was able to set dawdling splits (48.69 half-mile fraction was the slowest of the meet for the distance) and just played keep-away. No doubt has talent, though this race didn’t really prove much. Next stop may be the Grade 2 San Felipe here March 9, and if all goes well there, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby April 6. Den’s Legacy, his stablemate, chased the winner from the start while running in tandem with He’s Had Enough, got the better of that foe in the lane but the way the race played out he was chasing a fresh horse and was no threat to the winner. He’s Had Enough, 2nd in the Grade 1 BC Juvenile here, ran with Den’s Legacy throughout and couldn’t quite outdo that runner for 2nd while no threat to Flashback in a 2nd straight disappointing effort (ran 5th in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood). Like Den’s Legacy, however, the race shape played against him.

Santa Anita
Strub (race 8)

Guilt Trip fell into a great trip as Tritap and Handsome Mike shot out of the gate to ensure a sharp, contested pace. Guilt Trip sat 4th in the clear just behind Fed Biz, made a smart wide run in tandem with Fed Biz to challenge for the lead, got the better of that foe, edged clear and had enough to keep Stephanoatsee at bay. This would surely seem to punch his ticket for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 3, though the water will be much deeper if the likes of defending champ Ron the Greek shows up along with Game On Dude and Called to Serve. Stephanoatsee lagged back, began a smart run when pitched wide on the far turn and carried it to the wire, but just wasn’t quite good enough. The wide trip didn’t help but the way the horses in front of him were lined up four abreast turning for home, his rider didn’t really have a choice. Fed Biz got a dream trip. He broke sharply but his rider wisely pulled back out of the ensuing pace duel. He stalked in 3rd while in the clear, made a smart run to challenge for the lead turning for home but couldn’t sustain his run. It seems most likely he didn’t stay the trip, so while he ran well, a date in the Santa Anita Handicap may not be in the plans. Handsome Mike and Tritap went toe-to-toe from the start, with the former staying on gamely to just miss 3rd while the latter felt the effects of that duel and gave way.

Santa Anita
Arcadia (race 9)

Suggestive Boy, a former Argentine Horse of the Year, showed that type of class as he manhandled a strong field from a very tough draw (post 12). He had enough speed to get a stalking trip and avoid getting hung out to dry on the first turn. He moved closer on the far turn, surged between horses to challenge for the lead into the lane, took control and drew off to win impressively. This stamps him one of the favorites if he goes in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile here March 2. Wilkinson sat midpack, came with a threatening run into the lane, couldn’t finish with the winner but ran on well for 2nd. Silentio stalked the pace, appeared in a great spot, then seemed to take an awkward step turning for home and suddenly lost ground. He got going again and got 3rd and the good news is he’s reportedly none the worse for wear after that incident. Klisz, previously unbeaten, lagged back early, made a strong midrace move to look threatening into the lane but couldn’t sustain it. Euro raiders Vagabond Shoes and Strong Suit were no factors as the former lagged back and never made a run and the latter, who had the worst draw (post 13), was reluctant to load, broke poorly and never got involved.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Santa Anita
San Antonio (race 7)

As expected, Game On Dude thoroughly dominated the proceedings, easily beating 3 overmatched rivals. In winning this race for the second straight year, he showed his customary speed, was challenged early by Basmati, dispatched with that rival and drew away to win in easy fashion. This didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, but sets him up for a shot at the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 2, a race he won in 2011 (did not run in last year’s edition). Clubhouse Ride sat 3rd behind the dueling pacesetters and plugged along well for 2nd, though he was no match for the winner. Make Music for Me was last from the start and ran evenly, getting 3rd as Basmati tired after dueling early with the winner.