03/12/2012 10:54AM

Trip Notes: San Felipe Stakes, Tampa Bay Derby, and more

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Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Aqueduct
Cicada (race 4)

On paper Agave Kiss dominated this renewal, and that's pretty much the way it played out on the track, too. The daughter of Lion Heart made it 4 laughingly easy wins in as many starts, including romping in the Ruthless here Jan. 14. Here she again used her speed to bounce out to a clear lead, had a commanding lead turning for home and really didn't have a nervous moment thereafter even if runner-up Corderosa cut into that lead. She's yet to be behind a horse at a margin call and certainly is among the 3-year-old filly sprinting elite. Corderosa, 3rd to Agave Kiss in the Ruthless and 2nd to the talented Singlet in the Dearly Precious, stalked in 3rd early, tried to make a run at the winner into the lane, and while she closed the gap she was never really a threat while much the best of the rest. Alydarla chased the winner early and was unable to be a factor thereafter while holding 3rd.

Tampa
Hillsborough (race 10)

Zagora couldn't quite handle Denomination when 2nd to that gal in this race last year, but off a powerful win in the Grade 3 Endeavour here Feb. 4 she had little trouble turning the tables on that foe and beating some other nice gals here. The daughter of Green Tune, winner of the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga last July 30, bided her time off solid splits by longshot Megaspiel, and came with a strong run into the lane that carried her past her rivals and clear in the final furlong. Federation, coming off 2 smashing allowance wins here this winter, stalked in 4th, came with a nice run through the lane, and while no match for the winner kept on well to get 2nd. Unbridled Humor dogged pacesetter Megaspiel from the start, moved up to contend briefly for the lead into the lane but was no match for Zagora and lost 2nd in the final strides. Denomination, the defending champ, lagged back but never really mustered a run.

Tampa
Tampa Bay Derby (race 11)

Prospective couldn't handle Battle Hardened in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis here Feb. 4 when breaking from a miserable post (11) and rallying for 2nd. However, this time, with a much better draw (rail) and blinkers added, the son of Malibu Moon got his revenge and then some with a smart performance to thrust himself into the Derby picture. Prospective was midpack early, moved closer going down the backside, made his challenge and took the lead going to the far turn, looked in trouble when Golden Ticket came up his inside to grab the lead, but re-rallied to get the win. Golden Ticket, coming off a smart Gulfstream maiden win, handled the class hike well as he lagged back, came with a smart run into the lane along the rail, poked his head in front in midstretch but just couldn't outduel the winner while clearly the best of the rest. Cozzetti, freshened since running 4th in the Kitten's Joy on grass at Gulfstream Jan. 21, was well back most of the way but came home smartly for 3rd, though he was never a danger to the top 2. Spring Hill Farm the favorite off 2 big wins at Gulfstream, stalked the pace, loomed a big threat turning for home but couldn't sustain his run. Battle Hardened was midpack early and basically stayed there all the way around. Take Charge Indy scratched to instead await the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream March 31.

Gulfstream
Gulfstream Park Handicap (race 8)

Mucho Macho Man put up another powerful effort here, stamping himself a major player in the handicap division for the foreseeable future. He was already flattered as his Jan. 28 Sunshine Millions Classic win came at the direct expense of Ron the Greek, who came back to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 3. In this outing Mucho Macho Man stalked in 4th early off Tackleberry's solid pace, moved up easily going to the far turn to pressure that rival, took over on the turn and edged away. Tackleberry, making his first start since gave way badly to finish 9th in the Met Mile last May 30, went right out to set the pace, battled back when hooked by the eventual winner on the far turn but couldn't keep pace in the final furlong. Jackson Bend stumbled at the start, lagged back and came with a steady run, though he never looked a threat to the winner.

Gulfstream
Swale (race 10)

Trinniberg, making his first start since dueling and fading to 7th in the BC Juvenile Sprint Nov. 4, showed that despite the layoff his speed remained well intact as he posted a dazzling score. Racing without blinkers for the first time, he still had the speed to go right to the lead. He took constant pressure from Hello Prince but then kicked away into the lane and drew off to win with ease. Hello Prince pressured the winner from the get-go, and while unable to keep up with that foe in the lane doggedly kept after him and held 2nd. Ever So Lucky, making his first start since finishing 2nd in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Nov. 26, sat midpack early and came with a steady run, though he never once really appeared a danger to the winner. Nice as this race was it may not really have any Derby implications.

Oaklawn
Honeybee (race 7)

After failing to beat the boys in the Smarty Jones, On Fire Baby moved back in to face 3-year-old fillies and got her Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks aspirations back on track, but it wasn't easy. The daughter of Smoke Glacken sat 4th early but quickly moved up to sit 2nd behind pacesetter Amie's Dini. She hounded that rival from there, had to work hard to edge past but finally got the better of that miss and pushed clear. The margin wasn't much but she did accomplish it in the fastest 1 1/16-mile clocking of the meet – at least for about an hour before Alternation ran faster taking the Razorback. Amie's Din did everything right but just got foiled by a better filly. Coming off a smart win in the Martha Washington here Feb. 11, her first route, she went right out to the lead, took heavy pressure from On Fire Baby throughout but continued to rebuff that challenge until finally succumbing in the final yards. Still, she ran big as she finished 9 1/2 lengths clear of 3rd. Off this fine outing there isn't a reason in the world she shouldn't also consider taking a swing at the Fantasy. Colonial Empress stalked the top 2, was no match for them in the lane but kept to her task well to finish a clear of the rest.

Oaklawn
Razorback Handicap (race 9)

A deep handicap division just got deeper as Alternation, winner of the Grade 2 Peter Pan last year and a smashing winner of the Essex here Feb. 4 in his first start of 2012, tossed his hat into the older horse ring with a smart victory. The son of Distorted Humor bounced right out to grab the lead from a very quick Tapizar, rebuffed a challenge from that foe into the lane, scooted clear and held sway. Tapizar, disappointing when a well-beaten 4th as the favorite in Santa Anita's Grade 2 Strub, bounced back nicely as he dogged the winner from the start, made a run at him into the lane, couldn't quite keep up but stayed on well to be much the best of the rest. Color of Blue, a well-beaten 2nd by Alternation in the Essex, found that foe too tough again but after lagging back kept to his task to get 3rd while no threat. It Happened Again, last year's winner of this race, chased the top 2 early but gave way. Win Willy won this in 2010, and making his first start since winning the Oaklawn Handicap last April 9, was slow into stride, as is his custom, and never made a move.

Santa Anita
San Felipe (race 9)

Creative Cause took advantage of a dream trip to stamp himself the West's top Derby candidate. He broke alertly to sit a few lengths off the lead. He bided his time while in the clear on the outside, steadily advanced to get closer going down the backside, commenced his run on the far turn while staying very wide, moved up strongly to challenge Bodemeister while shifting further out, didn't immediately go on past that rival but finally surged past in the final yards. Bodemeister, coming off a huge maiden win, dogged pacesetter American Act, moved up to take the lead turning for home, was immediately taken on by Creative Cause, battled back gamely while shifting outward like the winner but couldn't quite keep up in the final yards. Midnight Transfer sat midpack, came with a nice run into the lane while moving to the inside, and while he couldn't sustain his run he did stay on well for 3rd. Liaison lagged back and could make only modest headway. Rousing Sermon was last early and passed only tired foes. Empire Way lagged back and gave way.

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Gulfstream
Palm Beach (race 7)

Howe Great made it 4 straight, the last 3 on turf, and stamped himself a comer in the division. The son of Hat Trick again used his speed without being speed-crazy as he hounded pacesetter Scorcher from the start, took over from that tiring rival into the lane, spurted clear and had enough to keep Dullahan at bay. While his last 3 wins have come on turf, he started this streak with a win on dirt. Dullahan, winner of the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity at Keeneland last fall and making his first start since finishing 4th in the Grade 1 BC Juvenile Nov. 5, bided his time and came with a solid rally to close the gap on the winner in the lane. This was a nice comeback run and he may well move forward next time. Csaba was just behind the winner from the start, couldn't accelerate with that rival turning for home and then couldn't finish with Dullahan.

Gulfstream
Herecomesthebride (race 10)

Dayatthespa confirmed herself a potential player in the big 3-year-old filly turf stakes down the road. Despite being stuck with a tough outside post and being a bit fractious before the start, the daughter of City Zip showed a bit more speed than usual as she chased pacesetter Frolic's Revenge. She moved to the lead into the lane, was immediately tackled by Regalo Mia but kept to her task to gamely prevail. Regalo Mia, a sharp 3rd in the Florida Oaks at Tampa after breaking her maiden on this course, ran yet another good race as she lagged back early, came with a strong run into the lane but just couldn't quite get to the winner in what was basically a 2-horse race in the lane. Dixie Strike, who beat Regalo Mia in the Florida Oaks, helped flatter that form as she was last much of the way and finished decently to be 4th (awarded 3rd via DQ). She's fired nicely in all 6 starts now. Almusafa, the original 3rd-place finisher, was well back early, sat back, swung out into the lane to start her run and in doing so impeded Northern Passion. She was DQ'd from 3rd to 6th.

Santa Anita
Las Flores (race 8)

Izzy Rules continued her ascent as the 5-year-old mare, who could have been claimed for $20,000 in early December, made it 4 straight wins with another scintillating display of speed. As in her prior victories she blasted right out to a clear lead, set hot splits but continued to extend her advantage and didn't really have a nervous moment. The only bad news is that while she loves this main track there are no more female sprint stakes for the remainder of the meet. Spectacular Sky chased the winner from the start, doggedly kept after her but just wasn't good enough. She's Cheeky was last early and made decent headway late. Home Sweet Aspen, 2nd choice off her win in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Jan. 28, stalked the pace, started a mild run into the lane but then gave way and was never really a factor.