We will be looking at three more races this weekend as we wind the 2016 Horse Racing season. It’s been a good year, lots of thrills as usual and I am, of course, looking forward to a 2017 that will be just as good.
The highlight race this week will be the 2016 Hollywood Derby, a nine-furlong contest for three year olds gunning for a $300,000 purse. Beach Patrol and Camelot Kitten will spearhead the field of 12.
The other two races we will be looking at are the Bayakoa Handicap, a $200,000 event for three-year-old and up fillies and mares also at Del-Mar, then we go across the country to Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, NY for the $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap.
Interesting to note that those last two races will be run on the same day honoring those two great horses.
It was the catastrophically talented, yet ill-fated Go for Wand, who was 10-for-13 with a pair of second place finishes in her career, that was actually running against the Argentinian mare Bayakoa in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Distaff when one of the worst disasters in the history of the sport occurred.
Go for Wand was leading by a head at the sixteenth pole in nothing short of an epic stretch battle when she took a bad step and blew her right front cannon bone to smithereens.
She fell to the track and threw jockey Randy Romero to the ground. Somehow, (to this day, I still don’t know how) she willed herself to her feet and limped around on three legs in one of the ugliest accidents I’ve ever witnessed in all my years of doing this.
Track personnel caught her and got her to lie down where she was immediately euthanized on the track. The next day, she was buried in the infield at Saratoga racetrack.
It was several weeks before I was able to watch a horse race again after that….in fact, I contemplated “retiring” in the weeks, and even months, that followed.
I was going to post the replay of that race but I couldn’t bring myself to do it…. yes, even some 26 years later, it’s still tough for me to watch.
Saturday December 3, 2016
Race: 8 (3:43 PM EST Post)
Go for Wand Handicap
Wonder Gal– takes an enormous drop in class as she exits the 2016 Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. I didn’t think this filly by Tiz Wonderful ran all that bad. Yes, she finished 10th of 13 but was only beaten 6 3/4 lengths for all the money. She may not have cared for the muddy surface (0 for 3 on wet tracks) in her race prior to the BC and if you look back three races, you’ll see she won by a colossal margin and registered a “trips” speed figure albeit vs. lesser competition. That’s the good news…the bad news is the falling speed figures, the 0 for 2 on this surface and the 0 for 2 at this distance are all causes for concern…..tepid choice in a tough race to figure………………there is a lot to like about High Ridge Road and only one thing to dislike. First off, she is a $350,000 yearling purchase by the fleet Quality Road who has improved quite a bit with the trainer change from Chad Brown to Linda Rice. After being moved to the Rice barn in the spring, this horse won a pair of races in Maryland by wide margins before finishing a good fourth at Monmouth on the 4th of July. She is 1 for 1 over the surface, 3 for 3 at this distance and has 7 of 8 career starts on the board. The only reason why I didn’t put her on top (my one dislike) was this will be her first start since that Monmouth race yet she shows just two published works. I know Linda Rice (literally) and I know she doesn’t send her horses out unprepared, so that work pattern is baffling to me……..Bar of Gold– absolutely “freaked” in the mud in her last as she won by a pole and scored a 109 speed figure in the process. Interesting to note this filly is 0 for 9 on fast dirt tracks yet 5 for 5 in the off going. By Medaglia d’ Oro, her last two starts at Belmont Park are probably good enough to win this. It’s just that she is sooooooooo set up to “bounce” as high as the sky in this spot its not even funny. Therefore, I can’t back her with any confidence………………….Honorable Mentions: I hate to put Highway Star in the “HM” area because if your draw a line through the failed turf experiment on Aug 11 you’ll see a filly by an up and coming sire who has won 4 of 5 career starts all vs. NY State-Breds. She was visually impressive in winning her last race when she came with a very nice 4 wide run on the turn and was “drawing away” in deep stretch. Of course, the elephant in the room is “how will she handle her first try against open company”??
Race: 6 (6:00 PM EST Post)
Vale Dori– won by a colossal margin while being geared down in deep stretch in her last vs. softer. Filly from the deadly Bob Baffert barn chased none other than Stellar Wind and the great Beholder two races back and won a restricted stakes race prior to that. Obscurely bred filly is versatile as she can adapt to any pace scenario and her speed figures are not only strong but consistent….gets the call to reverse a decision against Gloryzapper…………….Gloryzapper– “outgunned” the top choice back on Aug 11 in a thrilling stretch drive. Filly by the wickedly fast Ghostzapper was then thrown to the wolves in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint. This good looking miss led for more than a half mile in that race before she “took her ball and went home” at round the three-eighths pole. Trainer Phil D’Amato puts her in a much better/easier spot here and she looooooves this track (3 for 3 over it). I’m just not positive 8 ½ furlongs is her best distance……………..Wild at Heart– clearly didn’t care for the turf in her last but finished right behind Gloryzapper two back and won a quickly run six furlong race three back…………………..Honorable Mentions: Show Stealer– has had a very good year, topped off by also finishing right behind Gloryzapper in the summer. A good late running third in stakes race in his last and a nice come from behind win two back both signal to me this horse is in peak form right now…..not without a chance………….Desert Madam– is a neck and a nose short of coming into this riding a five race winning streak. Another obscurely bred filly, she has been first or second in 75% of her tries over this track and has never been worse than third in three tries at this distance. …might prove tough to catch if allowed an easy early lead…………….Autumn Flower– has closed well late to win her last two races vs. softer. Filly by Flower Alley has improved dramatically since returning to the dirt surface but will be stepping up in class big time here.
Race: 7 (6:30 PM EST Post)
|1||Beach Patrol||3/C||F Geroux||122||C C Brown|
|2||Camelot Kitten||3/C||L||I Ortiz, Jr.||122||C C Brown|
|3||Frank Conversation||3/C||L||M Gutierrez||122||D F O’Neill|
|4||Diplodocus||3/G||L||K J Desormeaux||122||R Baltas|
|5||Free Rose||3/G||L||N Arroyo, Jr.||122||R Baltas|
|6||Isotherm||3/C||L||J R Velazquez||122||G Weaver|
|7||Blackjackcat||3/G||L||M E Smith||122||M Glatt|
|8||Hayabusa One||3/C||L||V Espinoza||122||H G Motion|
|9||Revved Up||3/C||L||D Van Dyke||122||C R McGaughey III|
|10||Defiantly||3/C||L||G L Stevens||122||C Dollase|
|11||Annals of Time||3/C||L||J Castellano||122||C C Brown|
|12||Path of David||3/G||L||J Talamo||122||K Mulhall|
- Camelot Kitten– is a stretch runner by Kitten’s Joy who I like a lot. So much so, I’m still wondering why trainer Chad Brown didn’t run this horse in the Breeders Cup. Anyway, this nice looking colt fires his best shot every time out as his 7-4-2-0 record this year would indicate and he has been “right there” at the finish in all seven races. His speed figures are trending upward at a very steady rate and he clearly had a worse trip that who I feel is his main rival in this race (Beach Patrol) in his last race yet he still beat him…looks best is a very, very competitive horse race…………..
- The aforementioned Beach Patrol took the lead at the quarter pole in his last but was run down in deep stretch by the top choice with no apparent excuse. This $250,000 son of Lemon Drop Kid won the Grade: 1 Secretariat Stakes in his prior race and has been on the board in 8 of 9 career starts on the grass. Interesting to note, he’s now faced my top choice twice in recent months and he lost both times by a head, obviously making him a dangerous rival here………….
- Do not underestimate Annals of Time. I mean he broke his maiden at first asking then, after a rough trip, was closing fast, late vs. $80,000 optionals before finishing right behind (one length) the top two while scoring a 95 speed figure in just his third career start. With just three races under his belt, there is probably still a ton of room for improvement. If that’s true, and I strongly believe it might be, it’s very possible that this son of Temple City can “turn the tables” on the top two….dismiss him at your own risk…….
- Honorable Mentions (and there are several due to the depth of this field): Hayabusa One– shipped over from France and was put in the very capable hands of trainer Graham Motion. This chestnut colt could not have been any more visually impressive while winning his US debut at Keeneland on Oct. 9. He faced allowance foes that day but, after being as far back as seventh position early on, this cat shifted out, absolutely exploded past rivals from about the 5/16ths pole to the wire and won by 3 ½ “going away” lengths. I loved the push button, turbo acceleration I saw in the replay and the speed figure he scored in that race (93) puts him squarely in the mix…..no surprise if he betters this rating……………….. Free Rose broke running and set very fast early fractions in his last. Colt by Munnings had every right to fold his tent and quit running at the quarter pole in that race (Nov 4- Twilight Derby) but he didn’t. In fact, I really like the way he dug in and fought back every step of the way down the lane only to lose by a half length. This gelding from the Richard Baltas barn won back to back Grade: 2 stakes races in his two races prior to that and has never been off the board on the grass in six starts over it………………..Isotherm– has disappointed me of late as, early on in his career, I though he might be better than what he has shown thus far. That said, he clearly didn’t like the “soft” turf in his last and he did finish within shouting distance of the top pick twice recently (in August and September of this year)………..Defiantly- overcame a mediocre early pace to win a restricted stakes race in his last. Colt by Exchange Rate is steadily improving, came home the last quarter in a very good :24.1 in that last race and, most importantly, is 2 for 2 over this turf course…..long-shot possibility?…….Frank Conversation- ran a tremendous race in winning his last. He passed seven horses down the stretch (coming home the last eighth in a quick :11.3) to win by a neck in a very fast 1:46.4 for the nine furlongs, which just so happens to be Saturdays distance. The only problem I have with him is…..where did that race come from??? I mean, he was beaten country miles in his two previous races (a total of 37 lengths). If you know me, you know I don’t play inconsistent horses.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2016- Record: 86-213 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Social Inclusion, an enormously talented, Grade: 1 placed, record-setting son of Pioneerof the Nile, will stand at Woodford Thoroughbreds near Reddick, Fla., for the 2017 season.
Raced by Rontos Racing Stable, and whose career was grossly mismanaged, Social Inclusion broke his maiden by 7 1/2 lengths during the 2014 Gulfstream Park winter meet and followed that effort with a record-setting performance in allowance company going 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.4, defeating eventual 2015 champion older horse Honor Code by 10 lengths at Gulfstream.
Social Inclusion would go on to place in Wood Memorial Stakes, the Preakness Stakes, and the Woody Stephens Stakes. He retired with a record of 3-1-3 in nine starts and earnings of $450,800.
Social Inclusion’s stud fee has been set at $4,000 stands and nurses.
**** For the third consecutive season, super-sire Tapit has broken his own North American single-season progeny earnings record. The son of Pulpit began the week with progeny earnings of $18,371,097 and ended up surpassing his prior record total of $18,397,691 from 2015, when his son Divining Rod earned $100,000 for his runner-up finish in the $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap Nov. 26.
The 15-year-old stallion first broke the earnings record in 2014, when he finished with a total of $16,813,536, besting the previous single-season mark of $14,358,570 established by Smart Strike in 2007.
“I’ve stopped trying (to put him into words),” said David Fiske, manager of Winchell Thoroughbreds, which campaigned Tapit and retains a 50% share in the stallion. “Back-to-back-to-back leading sires—I think that has been done before. But I don’t know that back-to-back-to-back broken records has been done. The versatility he has and everything else, I mean, you could subtract his turf earnings from his total … and he’d still be the leading sire. Turf runners are like a hobby for him.”
A grade: 1 winner on the track, Tapit, who currently stands for $300,000, retired to Gainesway for his initial season at stud in 2005, entering the stallion ranks with a $15,000 fee. With his fee at $12,500 in 2008, Tapit began unprecedented run.
“They can just run anywhere and everywhere,” Fiske said of Tapit’s progeny.
**** Firing Line, best remembered for his game second, beaten a length, to American Pharoah in the 2015 Kentucky Derby has been retired.
“Firing Line was by far the best horse I’ve ever owned,” said Arnold Zetcher. “He gave us the thrill of a lifetime.”
Stud arrangements have not been made.
Following his game runner-up effort at Churchill Downs, Firing Line was off the board in the Preakness Stakes, then foot issues put an end to the rest of his 3-year-old season, and he was unplaced in his lone outing this year at 4.
“It’s the same soft tissue strain that came to light after the Preakness,” Zetcher said.
**** 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate got back to work Dec. 1 at Santa Anita Park, turning in his first work since his Nov. 5 victory over California Chrome and pointing towards a potential rematch with that rival in the Jan. 28 Pegasus World Cup.
The 3-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song is “quietly pointing” for the inaugural running of the race at Gulfstream Park, although Juddmonte must “buy” a spot in the starting gate due to the unique buy-in method by which the $12 million purse is amassed.
Thursday morning, Arrogate went a half in :49 flat under jockey Martin Garcia, and trainer Bob Baffert said the drill “didn’t take much out of the colt”.
“I was going to go three-eighths with him, but he was pulling around there,” Baffert said. “He did it pretty easy. He looks great. He can get a little bored out there. Going back to the barn he was playing around a lot.”
“If we go to the Pegasus, I really wouldn’t know until like Jan. 1,” Baffert said. “I could get him ready in three weeks. It’s not a big deal. We’d like to be there, (but) it’s just too far off right now. I don’t see anything that would say I wouldn’t go to it. As of today, we’re quietly pointing for it, as long as he’s doing great.
“Right now I don’t see any reason not to go. I can tell he’s starting to look stronger. His frame is filling out a little bit. I could get him ready really quick. With the great ones, you can get away with that.”
** While “in” the Baffert barn, here is some other news:
2016 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong (five furlongs in 1:01), is pointing for the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes, and undefeated Bob Hope Stakes winner Mastery (six furlongs in 1:12 4/5), prepping for the Dec. 10 CashCall Futurity at Los Alamitos.
Baffert added multiple grade I winner Hoppertunity, who ran fourth in the Nov. 25 Clark Handicap, will be given a brief freshening before gearing back up for a March 25 Dubai World Cup return. He finished third in that race this year behind California Chrome and Mubtaahij.