03/11/2013 9:25AM

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


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gulfstream Park Handicap (race 10)

Fort Larned, last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic hero, made his much-awaited seasonal debut – but it was an absolute disaster as he stumbled terribly at the start and lost his rider. With him out of the picture, speedster and Gulfstream specialist Discreet Dancer took full advantage. He pressed early pacesetter Fort Loudon, took over from that rival on the turn, opened up and really didn’t have a nervous moment thereafter. He’s now 4 for 5, with all four wins with Castellano aboard. Swagger Jack was last early, moved closer going down the backside, made a mild run at the winner turning for home but was no match for that foe in the lane. Fort Loudon set the pace under pressure from Discreet Dancer, tried to battle back on the turn but couldn’t keep up. Fort Larned reportedly did grab a quarter (left fore) but was OK the next day, suffering just some superficial cuts. He didn’t appear to have any issues after that as he looked good galloping around the track riderless, finishing far in front of the field.

Hillsborough (race 9)

Old Tune made quite a splash here Feb. 3 as the Brazilian multiple Group 1 winner stormed home an easy winner of the Grade 3 Endeavor. She validated that run and then some and stamped herself one to watch in the turf distaff division as she cruised to another impressive tally here. She volleyed for the lead early with Hooh Why through slow splits, dispatched with that foe turning for home, opened up and held the closers at arm’s length to the line. A date at Keeneland has been mentioned as next for her, either in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley April 13 at a mile or Grade 3 Bewitch April 25 at 1 1/2 miles. She’s proven at both distances. Forces of Darkness, a scary new face from France (Group 1 placed), lagged back and finished with good energy to just get up for 2nd. This indicates she’s one to watch for Chad Brown, who had a ton of success with another Euro invader, Zagora. Mystical Star, a Grade 2 winner and making her first start since finishing a sharp 2nd in the Grade 3 Long Island at Aqueduct Nov. 10, stalked the pace and kept to her task decently. This was a nice first run back and she’s eligible to move forward from here. Kya One likewise stalked the pace, made a threatening run into the lane but flattened out.

Tampa Bay Derby (race 10)

Verrazano had a number of tests put in front of him for this (new surroundings, longer distance, tougher foes) and he passed nicely. He stumbled at the start but recovered to dog Falling Sky early while on the inside. He allowed Falling Sky to clear a bit, was able to get off the rail and move to the outside, quickly went back up to challenge Falling Sky, over from that rival going to the backside, opened up into the lane and won under a hand ride. He certainly confirmed his high standing on so many Derby lists. The win looks better after it was reported that he grabbed a quarter (right fore) when he stumbled at the start. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the Grade 1 Wood at Aqueduct April 13 may be next, with the Grade 1 Florida Derby March 30 and Grade 1 Arkansas Derby April 13 as options 2 and 3. Java’s War, making his first start since running 5th in the Grade 2 Ky. Jockey Club, broke poorly to be last early, remained well back down the backside, made a strong run turning for home and through the lane though he was never really a danger to the winner. That was an encouraging comeback run for the son of War Pass (also sire of top 3-year-old Revolutionary) and he was far clear of the others (4 1/4 lengths). Falling Sky, game winner of the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis here Feb. 2, grabbed the early lead, relinquished it to Verrazano while seemingly quite content to chase that rival, was asked for run turning for home but was no match for the winner as he tired in the lane. Dynamic Sky, who rallied smartly to be a close 2nd in the Sam F. Davis, stalked the pace but was basically one-paced and never really a threat. He and Falling Sky appear to have been exposed here.

Honeybee (race 7)

Rose to Gold provided more proof that if you let a good horse have his/her way up front you’re asking for trouble. Under a super ride by Calvin Borel (who last week notched career win 5,000) Rose to Gold, 2nd in the Martha Washington to Sister Ginger, went right out to a clear lead, was able to dictate tempo, saw Flashy Gray move closer to challenge on the turn but had plenty in reserve after setting those slow splits and kicked away again to win easily. Flashy Gray, a surprising favorite in the Ky. Oaks futures wager despite no stakes experience, chased the winner from the start, made a run at her turning for home but had that challenge rebuffed. She was tons the best of the rest (10 1/4 lengths clear of 3rd). The $775K daughter of Flashy Bull may go for the Fantasy so she’s still very much in the Oaks picture. American Sugar, 4th in the Martha Washington, was last early, still last turning for home and finished decently though was strictly a 2-horse race. Liberty Girl, 5th in the Martha Washington, likewise sat well back and made modest headway. Sister Ginger really had no chance as she left her race in the gate. Upset winner of the Martha Washington she threw a fit in the gate, was backed out, pushed right back in and the gates opened. She stalked but gave way readily. You can excuse this run.  

Razorback (race 9)

Cyber Secret continued his love affair with this track as he notched his 3rd straight win of the meet while handling the class hike. This race was very much a replay of the Feb. 15 optional claimer he won here defeating Golden Ron and Atigun. Those were again his 2 most immediate victims here. He stalked the pace in 4th, steadily moved closer, went after the leaders into the lane and gamely prevailed in a photo. The Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap April 13 is a logical next stop as he loves it here, though the water will be much deeper there. However, he’s now 4 for 7 here, which accounts for all but one of his wins (that came at Belmont). Golden Ron, 2nd to Cyber Secret in that aforementioned Feb. 15 race, validated his form with another fine try at big odds (25-1). He again used his speed to go right out to a clear lead, battled back gamely when hooked first by Atigun into the lane and was able to fend off that rival, but couldn’t quite keep the winner at bay in a fine try. Atigun, the favorite in that Feb. 15 race when rallying for 3rd in his first start of the year, stalked in 3rd, went after pacesetter Golden Ron into the lane, couldn’t get past and then couldn’t quite finish with the winner. Both figure to again try Cyber Secret in the Oaklawn Handicap. Alternation, the favorite who won this race last year but was making his first start since a 6th in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup Oct. 6, lagged back early while wide on the first turn, remained wide throughout and never really mustered a run.

Santa Anita
San Felipe (race 7)

The Southern California 3-year-old rankings got shuffled around as the 2 big boys, Flashback and Goldencents, went at each other early but ended up committing mutual suicide as they set things up for strong closer Hear the Ghost. Hear the Ghost, making his first start since a 2nd in a sprint stakes here Jan. 21 and routing for the first time, bided his time while the 2 favorites set fast splits. He steadily advanced, was asked for run into the lane and flew home to just get up past the tiring Flashback. No reason he shouldn’t go on to the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby here April 6. Flashback, the favorite off 2 big wins to start his career including the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis here Feb. 2, seemed relaxed while stalking going into the first turn but once straightened away eagerly went with Goldencents to set fast splits. He got the better of that foe but couldn’t fend off Hear the Ghost in the final strides. Tiz a Minister was well back from the start but put in a strong sustained run to get 3rd in a promising run that makes him one to consider come the Santa Anita Derby. Goldencents, a multiple Grade 3 winner and Grade 1 placed, broke alertly but pulled his rider to the lead going to the backstretch, set fast splits while dueling with Flashback, battled with that foe to midstretch but then tired. Despite the efforts of their jockeys those 2 went at it like a match race but that spelled doom for both.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Santa Anita
Las Flores (race 8)

A return to dirt got Rumor back on track. The talented mare tried turf in the Wishing Well last time but never seemed comfortable. Moved back to dirt here she bided her time early toward the back, steadily advanced to the far turn, came with a strong run into the lane to go after heavy favorite Teddy’s Promise, caught that gal in deep stretch and edged away. The Grade 1 Vinery Madison at Keeneland April 13 may be next. Teddy’s Promise dogged pacesetter Shumoos, took over going to the far turn, opened up some into the lane looking like the winner but couldn’t quite fend off Rumor. Still, she ran her race – she finished 6 1/2 lengths clear of 3rd – but simply got beat by a gal who was a bit better this day. Shumoos set a brisk pace under pressure from Teddy’s Promise, tried to keep up with that gal going into the far turn but couldn’t keep pace though she held 3rd. Sugarinthemorning stalked the pace but never mustered a run.