In this weekend’s Horse Racing Race of the Week, the 2013 Kentucky Derby trail officially, and ironically, comes to an end where the Kentucky Derby begins. This weekend, we will be taking a closer look at the 2013 Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial Stakes for 3 year olds going a mile over the Churchill Downs main track with the final 20 Derby points also up for grabs. Zee Bros. has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite
Like every year, the road to the Kentucky Derby has been an exciting one. I think we are all expecting the full field of 20 to run. At this point, I’d say at least 8 or 10 horses that will be entering have a solid chance to be wearing the blanket of roses come the evening of May 4.
More on that subject as we get closer to the big day and for now, I digress.
Several other races, in all parts of the country, of interest this weekend include the Westchester Mile on opening weekend at BelmontPark. The now seven year old Grade: 1 winner Flat Out takes on stakes winners’ Homer Winslow and Pants on Fire.
Master Rick (5-2), Good Lord (3-1), Majestic Harbor (4-1) and Prayer for Relief (7-2) will meet in the Texas Mile down at LoneStarPark on Saturday. The one mile race has Grade:3 status and, judging by the opening odds, that might be a good race.
With BetfairHollywoodPark opening, for what might be the final time Saturday, the feature race is the $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes for California bred three years olds. The race has attracted the stretch running Tiz A Minster, who until recently, was on my Kentucky Derby list prospects. I mean, you just have to love his running style of laying some 15-20 lengths out of early before turning on the after burners down the stretch. His last race was a distant fourth in the Santa Anita Derby and he gets a huge class drop come Saturday.
Churchill Downs – Saturday, April 27, 2013
Race 10 – 10:42 PM
Derby Trial S. (Grade III)
Purse $175,000. For Three Year Olds
|1||1||Officer Alex||3/C||L||R Albarado||118||L S Whiting||
|2||2||Ruler of Love||3/C||L||R Napravnik||118||J Scott||
|3||3||Zee Bros||3/C||L||M E Smith||118||B Baffert||
|4||4||Forty Tales||3/C||L||J Rosario||118||T A Pletcher||
|5||5||Ruble||3/C||L||A Garcia||118||I R Wilkes||
|6||6||Capo Bastone||3/C||L||G K Gomez||118||T A Pletcher||
|7||7||Tour Guide||3/C||L||M Mena||118||D W Lukas||
|8||8||G. T. Tabu||3/G||L||W Martinez||118||S Parbhoo||
|9||9||Titletown Five||3/C||L||G L Stevens||118||D W Lukas||
1) Zee Bros– I’m not crazy about picking horses who jump straight from maiden wins to stakes races because that’s a big jump.
But I’m going to make a rare exception for this colt by Brother Derek for two reasons.
One, that maiden breaking win (at Santa Anita) was nothing short of outstanding. He set blistering fractions (half mile in :45 flat and six furlongs in 1:08.4) yet still won by 2 ½ lengths while finishing seven furlongs in a rapid 1:22.
Two, he shows two enormous works since that win, one at Santa Anita (4/13- 5F-:57.4) and the other over this very track (4/18- 5F- :58.4). That, readers, is what I call scorching workouts and, to me, signals readiness.
Lack of experience, stretch out in distance and several other “speed” horses entered in this race are all causes for concern, but he looks like the “fastest” horse in this race on paper….tepid choice.
2) Forty Tales– stretch runner won his first two career races by daylight, then finished “full of run” to just miss (finishing second) in his third career start (the Hutchenson Stakes at Gulfstream).
In his last race (the Swale Stakes also at Gulfstream), he was a beaten even money favorite but I’m going to forgive that race as he was forced five wide on the turn for home yet still only got beat 3+ lengths.
I am anticipating a fast early pace in this race, which is exactly what he needs to set up his late run and we should be hearing from him in deep stretch.
3) Capo Bastone– if you recall, for a while, I had him ranked in my “Top 10 Kentucky Derby List” up until recently.
Remember he was a very good, late running third to Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders Cup Juvenile last year, so you know he has class.
He started off this year right when he put in a huge run on the turn for home and put away a stubborn foe down the stretch to win an optional claimer/allowance race at GulfstreamPark.
In his last race however, he stumbled at the start and finished a distant ninth in the Spiral Stakes, which makes me want to back off him somewhat.
All in all, if he gets a good start (this time) and gets the fast pace that I think will emerge, he could bounce back big time and could far better this rating.
Officer Alex won his last two when leading every step of the way in one and coming from behind in the other (which was also a $75,000 Stakes race at Oaklawn Park). On paper, he appears to have the ability to be a menace in this race. Broken Vow, this speedster won four of five (including a couple of Stakes races) dating back to last year but finished an abysmal eight on April 5 which was his first race since Jan 20 and his first for a new trainer. He should go better in this race if he benefits from his last start and his new trainer finds his “hot” button. Ruble is another who has won his last two but takes a big step up in class….I also found it interesting he is just 6-1 on the morning line, I mean when the entries came out and before the opening odds were announced, I was thinking 10 or 12-1 at least. I wonder if the track odds-man trying to tell me something?
Record: 9-21 = 43%
2012: 24-74 = 32%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Super-sire Storm Cat was euthanized this past Wednesday at the William T. Young family’s Overbrook Farm near Lexington due to complications from infirmities of old age. He was 30.
A son of Storm Bird out of the stakes-winning mare Terlingua, Storm Cat was bred and raced by the late William T. Young.
His career highlights included a win in the Young America Stakes and finishing second in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Storm Cat retired from racing in 1987 to stand at Overbrook Farm. After breeding his first book of mares in 1988 at a fee of $30,000, he spent the next 20 years that, at times, saw his fee rise to as high as an eye popping $500,000.
According to Overbrook, Storm Cat sired earners of over $127 million, eight champions, and 108 graded stakes winners including winners of the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Oaks, and an astounding five Breeders’ Cup races.
Of his yearlings, 462 sold at public auction for over $319 million (that’s average of almost $700,000), including 91 yearlings which brought $1 million or more. In comparison, his grandsire, Northern Dancer ranked second with 52 yearlings which brought $1 million or more.
Storm Cat retired from active stud duties in 2008.
“Storm Cat was a once-in-a-lifetime horse and the key to the success that Overbrook Farm enjoyed. My father often said that Storm Cat made him look like a genius,” Overbrook Farm owner William T. Young Jr. said in a statement.
Storm Cat, who was one of the top 2 or 3 sires this correspondent has ever seen, was buried at Overbrook Farm.
**** 1993 Belmont Stakes winner Colonial Affair also died this week (Tuesday morning) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Owners Pablo and Victoria Duggan reported in an e-mail message that Colonial Affair was found dead in his paddock, possibly of a heart attack or some other infirmity of old age. The owners said the 23-year-old son of Pleasant Colony would be buried at their horse cemetery.
“It was an honor for us to be able to stand such a good horse at our farm,” they wrote.
Colonial Affair helped Julie Krone make history in 1993 by becoming the first female jockey to win the Belmont Stakes and first to win any of the Triple Crown races.
**** Game On Dude won last Saturday’s $1.5 million Charles Town Classic at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Racetrack. .
Game On Dude battled early with Percussion yet had enough left to hold off stretch challenges from Clubhouse Ride and Ron the Greek.
“He’s just a workhorse,” jockey Mike Smith said. “He’s so talented. He had a bit of trouble handling the surface; he was slipping a bit and had to handle the tight turns, but he’s just so good.”
“My heart was pumping,” said Joe Torre, the former manager of the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers who owns Game On Dude with the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa. “It’s a helpless feeling to just have to watch. It’s like sending Mariano Rivera to the mound; you put your hands in your pocket and hope for the best..
This year’s Charles Town Classic offered the winner $1 million, leaving $500,000 for the remaining finishers..
Game On Dude has now won four in a row dating back to Dec. 1.
Torre said it would be up to Baffert as to where Game On Dude runs next. “We’ll let the big boss tell us that,” he said.
In other three year old news:
**** 2013 Florida Derby winner Orb worked five furlongs at Payson Park in 1:02.1 and galloped out a sixth furlong in 1:14.4 (while getting the last quarter in :23.4) last Sunday and left a normally low keyed (trainer) Shug McGaughey “excited”.
Orb went the first three furlongs (in company) in :13 3/5, :26 4/5, and :38 2/5 before finishing a neck in front of his workmate and galloping out strongly.
“This was the one we need to get behind us,” McGaughey said. “What I really wanted to see was to see him finish good. I didn’t want to see him walking the last part of it.”
“What I liked to see was that he was very settled going to the track, warming up and coming home,” McGaughey said. “Walking around here now, he’s as calm as can be. That’s what we’ve got to have the next two weeks.”
“I’m really excited. I hope I stay excited and don’t get nervous, but I know that’s not going to happen. I had a lot of anticipation about today to get this over with in the right way. We got a good bottom work into him. We’ll sharpen him up over there,” McGaughey said. “But I am excited about the opportunity. If everything goes right in the next 13 days, I’ll really get excited about maybe having a chance to win.”
“I’ve never had a horse show so much improvement over this short period of time at this time of the year,” McGaughey said.
**** Verrazano, undefeated in four starts, breezed five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 last Sunday at Churchill Downs. The muscular colt was timed in splits of :13, :25 1/5, and :36 4/5. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 1/5, seven furlongs in 1:26 4/5, and a mile in 1:41 3/5..
“I thought he went great; he seemed to get over the track well and I liked what I saw,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of Verrazano. “We wanted a good, five furlong breeze and we wanted him to sit behind another horse, finish up good, and gallop out strong. And we accomplished that.”
**** Revolutionary, another Pletcher horse and winner of the Louisiana Derby, breezed four furlongs in :48 4/5, The son of War Pass cut splits of :12 3/5, :24 4/5, and :37. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 and six furlongs in 1:15 1/5.
Calvin Borel was aboard Revolutionary for the first time for the workout
“We wanted Calvin to get familiar with him and we wanted a little less from him,” Pletcher said. “I loved the way he galloped out and Calvin was real happy with him. You need to see horses work well over this track and gallop out well and that’s what we saw this morning. To me that’s very important.”
“Calvin is a terrific rider and is at his best at Churchill Downs,” Pletcher said. “With the success we had with Super Saver, it seemed like a no-brainer to me.”
**** Mylute, the runner-up in the aforementioned Louisiana Derby also worked Sunday morning when he ripped four furlongs in :47 4/5, the work was second fastest time of 81 horses who worked at distance at Churchill.
With jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard, he cut splits of :12 1/5, :24 1/5, and :36 1/5. He galloped out five furlongs 1:01 3/5 in a workout uncharacteristic of him.
“That has not been his MO (Modus Operandi) when he’s been on his own,” said trainer Tom Amoss. “Normally, he is a horse who doesn’t have a great deal of focus when he is by himself. The work was quicker than I anticipated but there were some reasons for that. The track was very fast this morning and in excellent shape.”
“That was an encouraging move,” the trainer said of the breeze.
Amoss said a change of running style and equipment change helped the colt improve a lot.
“He came from well back, which he did not do in the Risen Star, and we took the blinkers off for that race. The idea was to make one run at them. Not only was his race a good race, but when you look at what the others have done who came out of that race, it was a key race. I’m excited about that.
“The horses that ran in that race, even in mid-pack, came back to run well,” Amoss said.
**** Trainer Bob Baffert has confirmed Super Ninety Nine and Den’s Legacy are no longer under consideration for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
“After speaking with my owners, we’ve decided not to run Super Ninety Nine and Den’s Legacy in the Kentucky Derby,” Baffert said in a release. “Based on their recent form, we just didn’t feel they’d be competitive enough to win. They’re both good horses, but we’ll look for something else down the road.
“As for Code West and Power Broker, we haven’t made any decisions yet about their Derby status,” Baffert said. “I’ll be in (Louisville) Saturday (April 27) and I want to watch them train over the track and see what happens. They’ll work again Sunday (April 28) or Monday (April 29), but I won’t make final decisions about those two until I have to.”
Other works recorded yesterday (Thursday) include:
*Falling Sky– galloped 1 3/8 miles.
Fourth in the Arkansas Derby in his last start, Falling Sky is scheduled to work today (Friday) or tomorrow, depending on weather, according to Reynaldo Abreu, assistant to trainer John Terranova.
*Java’s War –who impressively won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in his last start, galloped 1 ½ miles.
*Frac Daddy, runner-up in the Arkansas Derby in his most recent start, also galloped 1 ½ miles.
*Golden Soul- galloped 1 ½ miles and is tentatively scheduled to work Friday morning.
*Normandy Invasion galloped 1 ½ miles after the renovation break
*Oxbow/Will Take Charge – both also galloped 1 ½ miles
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas likes what he sees from his Derby hopefuls.
“I like how my horses are doing. Whether they are good enough remains to be seen,” Lukas said. “Over the years, you get a feel about them and I am very comfortable with them now.”
Lukas said he may work both colts Monday, weather permitting.
*Vyjack– galloped 1 ½ miles after the break to the delight of trainer Rudy Rodriguez.
“Everything is good so far,” Rodriguez said. “The owner (David Wilkenfeld) is coming in Friday and Vyjack will work one of the next two days depending on the weather.”