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Trip Notes: Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Illinois Derby, and more
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Comely Stakes (race 7)
Another romping win solidifies Broadway’s Alibi’s status among the top sprinting 3-year-old fillies. Rested since a 16 3/4-length romp in the Grade 2 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Jan. 29 she again dominated here, going straight out to the lead and expanding her advantage from there, and didn’t really have a nervous moment in the lane. Trainer Pletcher said he’d take a wait-and-see approach regarding the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks but seemed more inclined to target the one-turn Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont May 28 and sprints like the Grade 1 Prioress at Saratoga Aug. 4 and Grade 1 Test there Aug. 25. That path sets up a potential mouth-watering clash with unbeaten Agave Kiss at some point. Welcome Guest, an impressive maiden winner at Gulfstream last month, sat midpack and finished well to get 2nd though she was never on the winner’s radar. Still a nice first try vs. winners for a filly who appears to have a bright future. Millionreasonswhy stalked in 3rd, tried to make a run at the winner into the lane but couldn’t keep pace and lost 2nd in the final half-furlong.
Bay Shore Stakes (race 8)
As Broadway’s Alibi stamped herself a top one-turn of the 3-year-old filly set, Trinniberg did a bit of the same for the male 3-year-old division with a smart victory. Coming off a romping 6-length in the Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream March 10, the colt bounced right out to a clear lead, was able to keep a clear edge while setting modest splits, extended his advantage into the lane and won fairly comfortably. Even so, this wasn’t the strongest Bay Shore. Hardened Wildcat, a winner of his last 3 including the Capossela on the inner track March 10, was well back early, steadily advanced to briefly look threatening into the lane but then couldn’t scare the winner late while much the best of the rest (5 1/2 lengths). How Do I win, 3rd to Hardened Wildcat in the Capossela, chased the winner from the start, weakened in the lane but still held 3rd.
Wood Memorial (race 9)
A bit of order restored to the Derby trail. After some upsets last week, the 2 favorites dominated the proceedings here as Gemologist stayed unbeaten in 5 starts – but only just, as he narrowly beat Alpha. Gemologist sat 3rd allowing a rank The Lumber Guy to zoom out to a fast early pace, bided his time while getting a great trip, moved up to challenge while staying wide and clear turning for home, took the lead into the lane and gamely rebuffed the challenge of Alpha. Alpha sat back, came with a strong run into the lane as if he was going to blow on by, didn’t sustain it, got going again late to scare the winner but still couldn’t get past. Both figure to go to Churchill for the first Saturday in May. Still, it’s tough to tell how strong this race was as the horse not far behind them in 3rd, Teeth of the Dog, was coming off a maiden win and the longest shot in the race. Teeth of the Dog sat back and came with a nice run for 3rd. Street Life, impressive closing from far back to win his last 2 despite chasing slow splits, found these waters much deeper as he again lagged back and failed to make an impact. My Adonis, 2nd to Hansen in the Grade 3 Gotham, didn’t exactly flatter that form as he chased pacesetter The Lumber Guy but gave way.
Carter Handicap (race 10)
Jackson Bend showed again that when he’s on his game he can sprint with anyone, particularly at seven furlongs as the son of Hear No Evil is now 4-for-4 at seven furlongs and notched his 2nd Grade 1 win (won last summer’s Forego at Saratoga). He stalked the pace, took the lead into the lane, looked as though he might win clear but then had to dig deep to rebuff the challenge of Caleb’s Posse through the final furlong. Caleb’s Posse, romping winner of the Grade 1 BC Dirt Mile in the fall and a sharp 2nd in the Grade 3 Tom Fool last month, sat back as usual, and as the favorite came charging home but just missed in yet another good effort. Shackleford, last year’s Preakness winner but coming off a dull 7th in the Grade 1 Donn, set the pace with Emcee, got rid of that guy on the turn but had no answer when the top 2 went storming past. Emcee, a close 3rd to Calibrachoa and Caleb’s Posse in the Grade 3 Tom Fool March 3, broke a bit flatfooted, rushed up to press Shackleford but then gave way. He has talent but could be he’s been asked to do too much too soon as this was just his 4th start. Calibrachoa scratched the morning of the race due to a quarter crack.
Illinois Derby (race 9)
Done Talking had flashed talent in 2011 when a good 4th (just behind El Padrino) in the Grade 2 Remsen, but in his first start of 2012 he ran poorly (10th) in the Grade 3 Gotham. He apparently needed that race as he got back to his best form posting the upset here. He was slow into stride but that helped as from his extreme outside post (13) he was then able to angle inward behind the field and save ground. He steadily advanced, came between rivals into the lane and kept on smartly for the win. Morgan’s Guerrilla, coming off a maiden win in the mud at Aqueduct March 3, was midpack early, moved up to stalk going down the backside, moved to the lead into the lane but just couldn’t quite fend off the winner. Hakama, who’d shown some quality when 2nd in a stakes at Laurel March 17, was last early and put in a strong rally while wide. While these guys ran well they still seem a ways behind the division’s big boys. Our Entourage, a highly regarded Pletcher runner, pressed the pace, took the lead on the turn but couldn’t sustain his run. Currency Swap, the favorite after running 2nd to Gemologist in his March 16 comeback run, sat midpack, made a threatening move on the turn but then gave way. He may simply be better at a shorter trip.
Ashland Stakes (race 8)
Karlovy Vary continued her emergence and the daughter of Dynaformer may have punched her ticket to the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks May 4 – though there are surface issues. A 2-time winner on turf including her only start of 2012 at Gulfstream Feb. 26, she went right out to the lead, took pressure from Lotta Lovin, dispatched with that rival into the lane, opened a bit of room and held off Hard Not to Like. This may have them now thinking about the Oaks, but in her only dirt start, the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill last fall, she ran poorly (7th) so maybe she wants turf and/or synthetic. Hard Not to Like, making her first start since finishing 5th behind Stephanie’s Kitten in the Grade 2 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall, stalked in 3rd, doggedly kept after the winner but couldn’t get to her. The Oaks is a possibility for her as well, and while she’s never even tried dirt her sire is Grade 1 dirt winner Hard Spun. Stephanie’s Kitten, making her first start since that aforementioned BC victory and eying a trip to England this spring, returned to the site of her big Grade 1 Alcibiades win but lagged back, came with a wide steady run though she was never really a threat. Lotta Lovin, who came here red hot off 3 straight stakes wins on Turfway’s Polytrack, dogged the winner from the start but gave way badly in the lane.
Santa Anita Derby (race 6)
I’ll Have Another validated his superb Grade 2 Bob Lewis score and did so in game fashion and by showing some versatility. The colt showed enough tactical speed to get a nice stalking trip off longshot pacesetter Blueskiesnrainbows, stayed in the clear when making his run on the far turn, looked beaten when favorite Creative Cause surged through between he and Blueskiesnrainbows but gamely persevered to win a photo. On to Kentucky. Creative Cause lost nothing in defeat. He saved ground all the way, moved through eagerly turning for home, looked the winner when he collared Blueskiesnrainbows in midstretch but just couldn’t quite outduel I’ll Have Another. He certainly figures to be one of the favorites in Kentucky. Blueskiesnrainbows, a longshot, ran huge as he went right out to set the pace and gamely fought back against the top 2 all the way to the wire. Liaison was just behind Creative Cause early, seemed in a good spot when he moved up inside going into the far turn but then either got squeezed back or pulled himself out of that spot and never threatened. Trainer Bob Baffert insisted Liaison doesn’t like Santa Anita and still plans on taking him to the Derby. Midnight Transfer sat back but never really mustered a run. Holy Candy scratched to instead go in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland April 14.
Providencia Stakes (race 8)
There can be no doubt now that Lady of Shamrock is the top 3-year-old turf filly out West. A smashing winner of the 2 stakes already this meet, she stepped up in class and tried longer and handled each with aplomb. As in her other starts she was content to sit at the back of the pack. She bided her time, came with a surge into the lane, blasting past her rivals, quickly opening up and then being geared down by her rider. This was awfully impressive and sets her up well for the big 3-year-old filly turf races at the upcoming Hollywood meet, including the Grade 1 American Oaks. Byrama was just in front of the winner early, couldn’t accelerate with that rival into the lane but finished well. Killer Graces, a Grade 1 winner on Hollywood’s synthetic track, handled turf well in her first try on it as she set the early pace, relinquished that role to then stalk, and while no match for the winner kept to her task well. Charm the Maker, another stakes winner on synthetic footing also trying grass for the first time, volleyed on the lead with Ms Pianist, got the better of the rival as she kicked clear into the lane but was no match for the winner’s big charge and only lost 2nd by less than a length.
Potrero Grande Handicap (race 9)
The champ showed why he’s the champ. Amazombie, champion sprinter of 2011 and defending champ of this race, looked good as ever as he chased upstart sizzler Roman Threat through sizzling splits, moved up to engage that rival into the lane, got the better of him and edged clear while under a hand ride. The win was also big for rider Mike Smith, as it was win No. 5,000. Roman Threat, coming off a dazzling debut win (Beyered 106), handled the big step up in class wonderfully as he set a sizzling pace and gamely tried to fend off the winner and while he was unable to do so this showed him capable of big things and he could be much tougher when these 2 meet next as this was just his 2nd start. He gives Baffert another high-class sprinter. Camp Victory, making his first start since finishing 7th in the Grade 2 BC Turf Sprint last fall, was last early and finished well. Sway Away, a good 2nd (beating Amazombie) in the Grade 2 San Carlos here Feb. 25, sat back after a slow start, moved up to appear very dangerous sitting just behind Amazombie but flattened out.
Creative Cause will be a great bet in the Derby... UNDERNEATH in exotics, at best!.
Done talking? Good luck with that one.
Ky Derby will be I'll Have Another / Done Talking either order, Creative Cause will not hit the board