We kick off our post-Christmas Horse Racing Races of the Week with two more races, co-highlighted by a pair of seven furlong sprints for straight three year olds. The 2016 Malibu Stakes for colts, one of my more favorite races of the year, and the La Brea Stakes for three year old fillies.
The Malibu and the La Brea both races carry Grade: 1 status and are run for a $300,000 purse.
Monday Dec 26,2016
Santa Anita Park
Race: 7- (6:30 PM EST Post)
La Brea Stakes
1 Lunar Empress (KY) 3/F L N Arroyo, Jr. 119 R Baltas
2 Lightstream (KY) 3/F L J R Leparoux 121 B A Lynch
3 Finley’sluckycharm (KY) 3/F L B J Hernandez, Jr. 119 W B Calhoun
4 Constellation (KY) 3/F L D R Flores 119 J Hollendorfer
5 Coniah (CA) 3/F L T Baze 119 C Gaines
6 Chao Chom (CA) 3/F L K J Desormeaux 119 G Stute
7 Enola Gray (CA) 3/F L M E Smith 119 P D’Amato
8 Perfect Pic (ON) 3/F L S Gonzalez 119 J M Cassidy
1) Lightstream– was well back early in the Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland in her last but made a very impressive, wide, sweeping move to the lead and powered past her rivals down the lane in an eye catching performance/win.
Filly by Harlan’s Holiday, who chipped a bone in her ankle and missed significant time early in her career, was closing fast, late in her prior race (the prestigious Test Stakes) at Saratoga.
Moreover, she has won four of six career starts, she has been facing better recently, she is 4-3-1-0 at this distance and (with a plethora of early speed signed up here) the pace scenario plays right into her hands.
“We’ve tried to space her races and we don’t run her unless she’s doing good, so fortunately enough she’s been pretty consistent all year,” said trainer Brian Lynch, who calls the filly a “diva” back at the barn who is “all business” on the track. “The ankle chip could have been a blessing. Sometimes it gives them a chance to mature. Sometimes everything happens for a reason.”
Gets the call here provided she takes to the west coast surface….a problem I’m not worried about being she’s run well on all four tracks/surfaces she’s tried thus far.
“Ultimately tracks vary from coast to coast,” Lynch said. “A lot of time speed doesn’t come back, but there’s plenty of speed in the race. A few could get to banging heads and the race could set up for her …..or could not.”
2) Finley’sluckycharm– has been nothing short of sensational since coming back off of a seven month layoff.
Filly by Twirling Candy has pulverized her rivals in three straight races since returning to action including beating non winners of 2 and non winners of 3 allowance races by 7 1/4 and five lengths respectively then walloping (8 ½ lengths) her foes in the Dream Supreme Stakes Nov. 25 at Churchill.
She was much the best in leading all the way in all three races and her final times in all three were “stupid” fast.
Moreover, her speed figures in those three races are high and consistent (94, 96 and 102).
She is 5 for 6 in her career with her lone defeat coming in a route race, which makes sense as sprint races are clearly where she excels.
Interesting to note, she will be trying seven furlongs for the first time on Monday. As thoroughly dominant as she has been through her last three (6 furlong) races, I don’t think the extra furlong here will pose a problem for her…..key word there is I don’t “THINK” so.
3) Enola Gray- sent a shockwave across the country in her debut last April when she won by a colossal margin, getting 6 ½ furlongs in 1:13.3 and registering a 99 speed figure.
Good looking filly by Grazen is already a three-time stakes winner in California-bred races including one stakes on the grass and is 6-4-2-0 in her career
Capable trainer Phil D’Amato then taught her how to rate and, although she ran well using those tactics, she clearly is not the same filly we saw
in the spring. Was it the change in tactics or has her form tailed off or both?
Her speed figures have tailed off a bit lately that much is for sure. Case in point, she disappointed as a 1-9 favorite in the Betty Grable in her last (Nov 13) where she finished second with no visible excuse.
Can she come back and rip this field? Yes, she can….but going into it, on paper, the other two look better.
Perfect Pic– is another who blew the doors off her foes in her debut and came back with a good, late running second in her next start. Trainer James Cassidy thought highly enough of her after just two starts to enter her in the Grade: 3 L. A. Woman Stakes on Oct 9. He was right as this daughter of Candy Ride almost took them all the way while losing by just a length….her first three races, and the speed figures she recorded in them, make me think she is a contender in this spot………Constellation– is an $800,000 daughter of Bellamy Road who has been on the board in six of seven career starts while winning four of them. Like the top pick, she came back running off of a long layoff while ripping a minor stakes field at Turfway Park in her last. She has been training light out in the morning and could easily better this rating………..Chao Chom– has never been off the board in seven career starts and pulled off an enormous upset (vs. Enola Gray) in her last. It’s just that 2 for 7 record that deters me.
Race: 8- 7PM EST Post
1 Navy Hymn (KY) 3/G L L Contreras 119 R Baltas
2 Mind Your Biscuits (NY) 3/C L J Rosario 121 R N Falcone, Jr.
3 Semper Fortis (KY) 3/C L M Gutierrez 119 D F O’Neill
4 Ten Blessings (KY) 3/C L R Bejarano 119 B Baffert
5 Jazzy Times (KY) 3/C L M Garcia 119 B Baffert
6 Who’s Out (KY) 3/C L F Prat 119 J Hollendorfer
7 Sharp Azteca (KY) 3/C L E J Zayas 121 J Navarro
8 Mor Spirit (PA) 3/R L M E Smith 121 B Baffert
9 Awesome Banner (FL) 3/C L J R Leparoux 121 M E Casse
10 Horse Greedy (KY) 3/G L J Theriot 119 B J Koriner
1) Mind Your Biscuits– is a stretch runner by Posse who chased probable 2016 Sprint Champion Drefong in two of his last three races and finished within shouting distance both times….he will meet no such rival in this spot.
I really liked his last race (the BC Sprint) as he came with a very good late run (at 15-1) to miss second place to Masochistic by a dirty nose.
However, the record books will show (with the recent announcement that Masochistic was disqualified for failing a post-race drug test) that this horse finished second that day.
Chestnut colt shows 10 of 12 career starts on the board and should get enough early pace to “run into”. He shouldn’t have any problems with the surface as he has already run well over it (BC race) and his bullet half mile work (:47 1/5, at Santa Anita Dec. 18) signals to me he is ready.
The next step in the progression would be checking a top-level victory off the list. With rival and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong declared out of the Dec. 26 $300,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) after spiking a temperature, the odds are greatly in Mind Your Biscuits’ favor to achieve that feat as he heads a field of 10 sophomore runners entered for the seven-furlong test at Santa Anita Park.
“He’s recovered great after the Breeders’ Cup and his workout the other day proved how good he was doing,” trainer Robert Falcone said.
“He gets over that track (Santa Anita) really nicely and hasn’t really missed a beat since the Breeders’ Cup. So we’re looking for him to run a pretty solid race”.
With Drefong being declared from this race after spiking a fever recently, it looks like it’s his race to lose.
2) Sharp Azteca– had a very good summer and came back last month to bury the field in the City of Laurel Stakes at Laurel in his last.
Good looking three year old by Freud (not sure what they are waiting for to run his on the turf) has been steadily improving in the spped
figure departmet since early 2016, topped off by registering a 101 in the Laurel race.
Three very good works since makes me think he, too, is sitting on a big race.
3) Mor Spirit– has been first or second in seven of eight career starts and was a serious Kentucky Derby candidate earlier this year.
Looking back, he seemed to “peak out” a little too early as his form started to subtly decline after the Robert Lewis last February, topped off by not running a step in the “Run for the Roses”.
He has had ample time off (7 ½ months), he loves this surface (never worse than second in five tries over it) and recorded a monster work (4F- :46.1) last week.
Ten Blessings, who is impeccably bred being by Smart Strike out of champion Indian Blessing, will be making his graded stakes debut in this spot and is hard to get a read on. I mean, yes, he’s been improving with every race for the deadly Bob Baffert barn but beating mid level optional claimers by almost 5, while getting seven eighths in 1:21.3 and registering a titanic 106 speed figure almost came from out of nowhere. So, is he improving that quickly or is he set up to bounce as high as the sky? You must also take into consideration he is returning to Santa Anita, which is clearly his most favorite surface. Your call from there………….Awesome Banner– is fast but, by and large, will probably be ignored in this spot. ….not by me though. This gorgeous speedster can win from on or off the pace and has been first or second in nine of 11 career starts. That’s impressive, but after digging a little further I found he is 8-6-2-0 in races of seven furlongs or less….that’s even more impressive. Toss him out at your own risk…………..Semper Fortis– is a stretch running son of Distorted Humor that has been on the board in 8 of 11 starts. He has been “right there” at the end of his last four races, while finishing his races very strongly in all four. With the anticipated fast early pace, I have to at least “mention” him as a long-shot possibility in this spot.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team [email protected]
2016- Record: 90-221 = 41%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** I know I’m dating myself here but I had to mention Turkoman, the 1986 Eclipse champion older male, was euthanized due to infirmities of old age Dec. 21 at E.A. Ranches in Ramona, California.
The massive son of Alydar was a mind boggling 34.
Trained by Gary Jones and owned by Saron Stable, Turkoman showed ability during his 3-year-old season with runner-up finishes in the grade
I Swaps and Travers Stakes and a third-place finish in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
It was at age four that this 17 hands monster had his best year.
He used his come-from-behind style to win the Oaklawn Handicap, Widener Handicap, and Tallahassee Handicap before running down Precisionist in the 1986 Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park.
He went off as the favorite in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Classic and was towards the back of the pack early but launched a 5 wide run, from 10 lengths back, at the 5/16ths pole only to fall short by 1 1/4 lengths to longshot Skywalker.
All told, Turkoman won 8 of 22 starts and earned $2,146,924.
After beginning his breeding career at Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky, he moved to California, first to Circle H Ranch, then Mira Loma Thoroughbreds, and then, in 2005, to E. A. Ranches.
Pensioned in 2008, Turkoman sired 34 stakes winners, including Peruvian champion Captain Garfio and grade I winners Turk Passer and Man From Wicklow.