This weekend, and the next several actually, would be one of those weekends I would classify as a “Blockbuster Weekend”.
On Saturday, we will be looking at a total of seven races with co-featured highlighted races in the 2017 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, which drew one of the leading 2017 Kentucky Derby candidates in Gunnavera in the nine furlong, $1 million, Grade: 1, and the Louisiana Derby, a $1 million, Grade: 2, nine-furlong test at the Fair Grounds as well. The Louisiana Derby drew a field of nine led by Guest Suite and Girvin
Both races are for three year olds only and should have significant Kentucky Derby repercussions.
Being that we will be focused on the Fair Grounds and Gulfstream Park, I figured we would look at some of the other races on the cards as I added the New Orleans Handicap (for four-year-old and up), the Muniz Memorial (on the turf) and the Fair Grounds Oaks (three-year-old fillies) on the Fair Ground card.
On the Gulfstream card, I added the Honey Fox, a turf race for females that will feature Celestine, and the GP Oaks for three-year-old fillies.
Before moving to this week, let’s talk about last week a little bit:
March 25, 2017 – Back “Track”
Purely a Dream ran well and pulled off the upset at 13-1…. The “light bulb” angle I mentioned about Awesome Boss came to fruition as she rallied late to grab second at 9-1, making a $246 exacta. Darkwingsoverdubai (my pick) made a very nice move from the 3/8ths pole to mid-stretch but pretty much hung like a cheap suit in deep stretch and settled for third. Delphinia, the 8/5 favorite, set the pace for the first half mile but completely spit out the bit and quit running at that point to finish a very disappointing 11th of 12.
Fast and Accurate pulled off an even bigger stunner than Purely a Dream as he came from just off a fast early pace to win at 25-1. He is clearly a better horse with the addition of blinkers and (with a win last weekend) he clinched and automatic Kentucky Derby start. The question is, is he good enough to run in/win the Derby? I’m thinking no. I did “mention” Blueridge Traveler last week, saying he was a deep closer and who might run well at big odds…. sure enough he rallied from far back to grab second at 35-1, making an almost $800 exacta. Similar to Darkwingsoverdubai, my pick Kitten’s Cat made a late run but he too hung late, barely hanging onto fourth. I did not see the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner in this race. If he was there, he is hiding really well.
Sunland Park Oaks:
The unbeaten Ghalia took advantage of a very strong early pace and rallied late for the win and proved she is better than people think……. second place finisher Kell Paso was game in defeat……. lastly, hear what I’m saying…. I’m done Noted and Quoted for right now. The Bob Baffert trained filly (on paper) should have buried this field (she was bet down to 3/5) but was through before they hit the far turn and was eased late. She might be one of the most inconsistent fillies I’ve ever seen. That said, I hope she is not hurt and shame on me for playing her as most of you know, I always “pass” on horses who are inconsistent.
Sunland Park Derby:
Hence, who impressed me so much in his maiden win yet disappointed in the Southwest, looked like a world beater as he came from near last and motored by the field down the lane. No big surprise here. In fact, the only thing that surprised me was him going off at 11-1…..thought he would be 4 or 5 to 1 at post. He is worth watching down the road……Conquest Mo Money (my pick) also launched a nice bid on the far turn but could not catch the winner. Kudos to Hedge Fund also, who set a very quick pace and held fairly well for third.
Saturday April 1, 2017
Fair Grounds Race Course
Race: 8 (3:39 Pm EST Post)
New Orleans Handicap
Hawaakom – appears to be in the best form of his career right now. This 7-year-old by Jazil came back running thus far in 2017 as he came from behind to win a minor (muddy) stakes race over this track two back, then chased Dubai World Cup runner-up Gun Runner in his last. His speed figures have climbed steadily since the fall of 2016; he likes this surface and should get a sufficient pace to run into. Narrow margin in a ridiculously difficult horse race to figure out…………….Honorable Duty – has won 5 of his last 7 starts and had legitimate excuses in the two defeats. 5 year old by Distorted Humor is another who appears to be peaking out right now plus he is 2 for 2 over this racetrack…..big threat…………I hate to put Eagle this far down because it could easily come back to bite me as this stretch running 5 year old by Candy Ride always fires his best shot. He made a tremendous, (wide) middle move in his last, making up 11 ½ lengths in a half mile in the Mineshaft Handicap, before understandably tiring slightly down the stretch (that was his first race in 7 ½ months). He’s been working well for trainer Neil Howard and she should be much “tighter” for this race. …another big threat………….Honorable Mentions: International Star – is a handsome, well put together “little” horse who loves this racetrack (4 for 7 over this surface yet 2 for 9 everywhere else). After being wide his entire journey, this son of “Fupeg” leveled out well down the lane, coming with a big late run but missed by a half a length in the end of the Mineshaft. He, too, was coming off a long break (8+ months) in that race so, like Eagle, logically you have to expect improvement in this spot and I always respect a horse who shows an affinity for the surface they are running on……………..Mo Tom – was a one-time Kentucky Derby contender last year but showed little in his 2017 debut. This good-looking son of Uncle Mo has ability and probably needed that race (his first in 5+ months) plus he’s been working lights out. I really like that one work (5F work in :58.4) which was best of 47 who worked that distance that day……………….I know you’re going to think I’m crazy (join the crowd) by putting Noble Bird this far down but bottom line with this guy is either he runs HUGE or he gets beat by a country mile with very little in between. The same goes for Breaking Lucky (in his last few races)….both remind me of Noted and Quoted.
Race: 9 (4:04 PM EST Post)
Kasaqui – faced far better last year; highlighted by finishing a fast closing, neck defeat to Mondialiste in none other than the Arlington Million. Moreover, he was not embarrassed in any of those races by any stretch of the imagination (throw out the Fayette on Oct 29, it was on the dirt). This good looking, gray, 7-year-old has recorded four “trips” speed figures in his last 6 races while the rest of this field combined has zero. His 2017 debut race (a fast closing second at Tampa Bay Downs in a quick time) and his last two works should set him up perfectly for this……looks best……………Enterprising – has run bang up, including 2 wins, in his last 6 races dating back to the summer of 2016. I really like his last race/win which, not only was his Fair Grounds turf debut (signaling to me he likes the course), but he came home the last furlong in a smoking :11.3………Granny’s Kitten – missed the break but was only beaten by 3 lengths (to Enterprising) in his last. 5 year old by Kitten’s Joy should grab the “show dough” in this spot. In fact, you may want to move him up further should the turf come up anything but firm as he loves some “give” in the turf……………………Honorable Mentions: Oscar Performance – has now run second three consecutive times including just missing behind Enterprising in his last…..have to respect him here…………Special Ops – is sharp right now based off his last two come from behind scores vs. lesser. Note, he came home the last 2 ½ furlongs in a solid :30.1 in his last. This son of Big Brown could be a menace in this spot if he duplicates that race here………….A couple of other long-shots to consider include both Bullard’s Alley and One Mean Man, who both finished within shouting distance of Enterprising in their last.
Race: 10 (4:46 Pm EST Post)
Fair Grounds Oaks
Farrell – is the best three-year-old filly on the east coast and either the second or the third best filly (Unique Bella, Abel Tasman) in the land right now. By Malibu Moon, this filly has won (in succession) the Golden Rod, the Silverbulletday and the Rachel Alexandra by a combined 12 ¼ lengths. She is 2 for 2 over this racetrack and her speed figures continue to improve, signaling to me she is still getting better, which is a scary thought……logical choice and probably the best bet of the entire weekend…………………Summer Luck – is a stretch running, well bred (by Lookin’ at Lucky out of Deputy Minister mare) filly who is screaming for more ground as her two best efforts have come at a mile. Moreover, I thought she ran extremely well in her last 3 races as she was making up ground late in sprint races over a speed favoring surface (Gulfstream Park). Don’t worry about the 1 for 5 career record as it is misleading in this case. She looks to be in a good spot here as she will get more ground to work with over a track that plays a little more fair to late runners…………………you can criticize Majestic Quality for still being a maiden after 8 career starts, but you can’t take away the fact that she finished just 3 ½ length behind the top choice in the Rachel Alexandra at 24-1. Good looking filly by Quality Road ran the best race of her life that day and I’m not sure if it was the change in surface (to the Fair Grounds) or she is just flat getting better….it really doesn’t matter because either way she must be considered in this spot………………….Honorable Mentions: Daria’s Angel – buried maidens in her last but, if she repeats that effort here, she will be among the vanguard at the finish line…………………….Corporate Queen – won her muddy tracked Laurel debut then improved 13 speed figure points with the addition of Lasix and the trainer change (Keefe to Casse). If this filly by Colonel John improves another 13 points, she will be a menace in this spot…………………although things will probably be different this time, Vexatious finished “a-head” (literally) in front of Majestic Quality out in California in November.
Race: 11 (5:21 PM EST Post)
1) Girvin – came from obscurity (just 2 career starts prior) to win the Risen Star Stakes at 8-1 in his last.
This gorgeous, well-made son of Tale of Ekati has a big, long nasty (in a good way) stride and gosh I just love the push button acceleration and ear pinning he shows when asked to “go”.
It’s tough to say how good he is off of just 3 career starts but, if this were a beauty contest, he wins hands down and although I think he will, he needs to prove the Risen Star wasn’t a fluke.
If he wins this race he will head to Kentucky armed with a strong resume…but that is then and this is now and right now, I am looking for a repeat of the Risen Star performance here.
2) Guest Suite – was simply too far back early in the Risen Star (his last race).
This late running son of Quality Road was 4 for 5 in his career prior to the Risen Star and came from anywhere between 2 and as many as 7-8 lengths behind in his prior races. In the Risen Star, he was some 12-13 lengths behind early on and, albeit he came with a big late run (he made up 10 lengths in the last six furlongs of the race) he simply was left with too much to do down the lane.
He has done nothing but improve (speed figure-wise), has a capable trainer in his corner and has been working lights out of late…..obviously a huge threat to bounce back and win this.
3) Patch – is very, very intriguing to me.
This good looking colt is by Union Rags, from the “Todd Squad” barn and is bred and owned by the legendary Calumet Farms, so he obviously has good connections.
On paper, and after having just two races, he looks overmatched. But, after taking my usual “closer look”, I found several things I liked and they are making me think he could run big in this spot.
He came from near last to finish second in a six-furlong maiden race on Jan 15 in his racing debut. That was quietly a big race as this horse clearly showed in that performance that he needs more ground.
Pletcher gave it to him in his second start about a month later when he came with a 3 wide rally to “nail the speed” in deep stretch to win by almost 2 lengths at one mile.
Moreover, he improved an eye popping 25 speed figure points from race one to race two and, most importantly, he came from behind nicely in both of those races over a track that is notorious for favoring speed/front running horses.
In this spot, He will get a track that is a little more honest to come from behind runners such as him; he’s been working well at Palm Beach Downs and might surprise a few people here.
Local Hero – Is a $500,000 son of the gorgeous Hard Spun who could not have looked any better while decimating maidens wire to wire in his 2017 career debut. I mean he won by 7 lengths but could have won by a dozen or more if Geroux didn’t pull him up late in that race. After that, he came back and absolutely blew out of the gate in the aforementioned Risen Star Stakes but seemed to run off early with Geroux as he open a 3+ length lead after the first quarter and opened up as many as 6 lengths down the back side of that race. He understandably tired by the time they hit the eighth pole and checked in third. Bottom line here is this horse is a serious threat to take them “coast to coast” if Geroux can harness some of that big time early speed he possesses………………..Senior Investment – is another who has done nothing but improve in the speed figure department and has won 3 straight coming into this. Chestnut colt by Discreetly Mine takes a big class hike but has won at this distance, and over this track, before……It’s tough to get a read on Monaco, who is a $1.3 million son of Uncle Mo. I mean, on one hand he has improved significantly through his first 3 races, topped off by breaking his maiden by a colossal margin in his last. He is from the “Todd Squad” barn and he will be adding blinkers here, signaling to me that Pletcher might be trying to get him more focused in this spot (why/how do you try to improve a horses’ focus when he is coming off a wide margined win?). But on the other hand, he beat maidens at Tampa Bay Downs (where the quality of horse isn’t exactly Santa Anita or Saratoga) and his speed figure was…well….super low (58). The TBD surface is notoriously deep so I’m not surprised by the low number but still….a 58? I know one thing; horses come off that racetrack “fitter”. Other than that, I’m curious to see how this cat runs on Saturday.
Race: 10 (4:25 Pm EST Post)
Celestine – was one of the better older female turf runners in the country last year while scoring two Graded Stakes wins (including a Grade:1). This 5 year old mare by Scat Daddy tailed off in form in the latter part of 2016 but came roaring back this year while wiring the field in the Sand Springs in her initial start. She has responded well to the trainer change (Mott to Clement) and she is back on her favorite turf course (4 for 7 at GP) and favorite distance (5 for 7 at a mile). “She won the prep race and was very impressive,” Clement said. “She has done well since. I think she is a better horse then she was a month ago. She loves firm turf. She has plenty of speed (and) Gulfstream is always very speed favoring. We’re looking forward to seeing her run on Saturday.”……..logical choice………….Linda’s – career went to a whole new level after her connections put her on the grass last year. This 4 year old gray filly came from behind to win 3 of 4 turf races towards the end of 2016 and a showed a very steady upward trend in the speed figure department (84, 86, 94 and 96). It’s a little concerning that she will be making her first start in four months (especially after what her trainer said) but she has been training very well of late. “I gave her just over a month off after her last race and brought her back to training,” said trainer Ian Wilkes. “She will run good. Is she ready to fire 100%? No, but she is ready to run.”…………….Lori’s Store – was a close third behind the top pick and the very speedy Catch a Glimpse in the aforementioned Sand Springs in her last. It must be noted that she ran a close third to those two top notch horses while running for the first time in 7 seven months. So, with normal improvement, I expect a good performance from her on Saturday………….Honorable Mentions: Josdesanimaux – probably needed her last (third beaten by just one length) on Feb 24 as it was her first race in 5 months. Still another who should improve off of that effort and I love the 4 for 6 record over this turf course………………Mississippi Delta – defeated Josdesanimaux while wiring a high priced optional claimer field in her last. 5 year old Giant’s Causeway mare has two wins and a second in three tries over this surface.
Race: 11 (4:57 Pm EST Post)
Gulfstream Park Oaks
Salty– was visually impressive splitting horses with a 4 wide, sweeping run to the lead at the top of the stretch in her maiden breaking win in her last. Filly by Quality Road was closing fast, late behind Nonna Bella in her only other career try. Although she will be trying two turns for the first time, it certainly looks to me the further she goes, the better she will get. Good looking miss, who got a trainer change recently, owns a significant advantage in the speed figure department also. I’m taking her to spring an upset here…………………….Tequilita – will most likely be the post-time favorite based off the fact she’s won her last three races in a row including a stakes race at Laurel to end 2016 and the Grade: 2 Forward Gal (over this surface) in her initial 2017 race. This bay filly is extremely well bred and in the very capable hands of Michael Matz (of Barbaro fame), but she too will be trying two turns for the first time. “I thought she ran a big race (in the Forward Gal). The big thing is she’s starting to wait and relax. We want to see if we can stretch her out to two turns, which I think she will. After this race we’ll see which way we want to go—if we want to stick to two turns or stay at one turn. She’s done well and she’s trained well up to this. We’ll just have to see if she can get the two turns” said Matz…………Summer Luck – is cross entered here and in the Fair Grounds Oaks and (at this writing) I am unclear of in which she will start. See the comments in the Fair Grounds Oaks portion as I think she will run big in either spot due to the stretch out in distance she so badly needs……………………..Honorable Mentions: Nonna Bella – is 2 for 2 (both at low post-time odds) after wiring maidens and then a field of high priced optional/NW1x field in her first two starts for the Repole/Pletcher/Velazquez team. Like several others in this race, this Stay Thirsty filly will be stepping up and stretching out but it took her nearly :14 second to complete the final furlong in her last race, which doesn’t get me all that excited……………………….Jordan’s Henny – got caught up in a protracted speed duel (at 19-1), yet was still “hanging and banging” in deep stretch against the talented Miss Sky Warrior in the Davona Dale in her last. Filly by Henny Hughes broke her maiden (over this surface) prior to that and is undoubtedly on the improve. Horses who like the track and are improving should always be respected… Although she has hit the board in 7 of 8 career tries, she’s only won 1 of the 8….that troubles me……………..Modacious – was battling with Jordan’s Henny in the Davona Dale and even poked her head in front at about the half mile pole but gradually weakened down the lane. You get the third start off the layoff angle with this filly so she might run better in this spot…..but what’s up with the very weak half mile work for this last week?
Race: 14 (6:40 PM EST Post)
1) Gunnevera – is the logical choice in this spot.
This $16,000 yearling purchase, who has already banked over a million bucks, possesses a very strong late run and has done nothing but improve since the end of last year.
When I looked at just his last three races, two of them were nothing short of spectacular and one, even in defeat, he looked good.
Going back to Nov 19, he could not have looked any better while being a “last to first” winner of the Jackpot Million at Delta Downs. The acceleration he showed from the three eighths pole to the wire was brilliant as he won laughing while scoring by almost six lengths and registering an 86 speed figure.
He probably needed his next race (Feb 4 Holy Bull Stakes) where, although the brilliant late acceleration was on display again, he couldn’t “reel in” a streaking Irish War Cry down the lane and had to settle for second, but improved his speed figure 9 points in the process (95).
His last race (March 4, Fountain of Youth) was perhaps his best yet; and that’s exactly what you want to see in a Derby prospect …peaking at about just the right time.
After, once again, being last after the first quarter mile of the FOY, jockey Javier Castellano patiently weaved his way into contention at the three eighths pole, cued this horse to “go” and once again, this horse “leveled out” and exploded in the last quarter mile to win by almost six (widening) lengths, scoring a career high 97 speed figure.
Moreover, that work on March 25 was way better than it looks on paper. As I watched the video of it, he was striding out beautifully under very little encouragement from his rider. That work signaled to me he is holding form and should be sitting on another huge effort.
I must admit, this colt tugs at my heart string a little bit as his dam died suddenly when he was just 2 weeks old so it makes it easy to root for him.
The only concern is he comes from so far back, if he doesn’t get an honest pace in front of him, it could cause an issue. That said there is plenty of early speed signed up in this race (Three Rules, State of Honor, Battalion Runner, Always Dreaming and possibly super long shot Charlie the Greek) so that should not be a problem.
Bottom line here is, this race is his to lose…..
2) Battalion Runner – is a $700,000 son of Unbridled’s Song and is vaunted for only having three career starts.
Granted he’s looked good in all three starts while winning his last two but it must be noted, although he dusted his foes two starts back, it was against maidens.
Just like it should be noted, although it was eight lengths back to the third place horse, he beat $75,000 optionals in his last start. Albeit, the speedy Beasley was in that race, the Florida Derby is far cry from maidens and optionals.
Frankly, this race drew rather weak this year but from what I saw on video he looks the best of the rest.
One last note on him….at this writing (and now that Mastery is out of the picture) from what I understand there is a very good chance this horse will scratch from this race and board a plane to Santa Anita and run in the Santa Anita Derby instead.
3) State of Honor – has big time early speed and drew the rail and like I’ve said 1000 times over, that’s a dangerous combination.
This good looking son of To Honor and Serve showed good speed and determination in both his most recent starts and finished within shouting distance of serious Kentucky Derby threats McCraken in one (Sam F. Davis, two starts back) and the $1.3 million Tapwrit (Tampa Bay Derby) who is improving leaps and bounds of late, in the other.
Having two races on the Tampa Bay Downs surface recently should have him “legged up” pretty well for this and his works coincide with that.
It’s just that 1 for 9 career record that deters me somewhat.
Three Rules – is one of my favorite horses’ currently in training but you have to look at races with your head and not your heart. This gorgeous dark bay looked jaw dropping good in that last work (5F- 1:00.3) and he loves this surface (7-5-1-1 over it.). As much as I like him, I’m not sure he is going to get nine furlongs in this spot. Heck, his trainer already said regardless of how he runs Saturday, he is going to skip the Derby and point this cat for the Preakness. I would pay real money for them to take him back off the pace a little in this spot but, he has so much natural early speed, I’m sure they won’t and that, readers, will probably hurt his chances. I expect him to be prominent in the early going (along with several others), which could make him vulnerable down the stretch………………Always Dreaming – is a $350,000 son of the mega-talented Bodemeister who mirrors Battalion Runner somewhat. This handsome colt destroyed a field of maidens two back then beat an optional $75,000 field in his last start. I only put him this far down based off that last race. Yes, he has a beautiful stride, and yes he ran the last quarter in that race :24 1/5 (including the final two sixteenths in about :06 flat each). But look at the fractions in that race (:51.3, 1:16.4 and a mile in 1:41?). I get it…the track (Gulfstream Park) was playing dead that day but still…..I mean, to me he better have flown home after such soft early fractions………………..lastly, what on earth is Charlie the Greek doing in this race? He is 2 for 12 in his career, 1 for 7 at GP, his highest speed figure to date is 66 and he can’t beat $35,000 claimers…..there ought to be a law.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2017- Record: 22-55 = 40%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013 -Record: 20-59= 34%
2012: Record: 24-73= 33%
2011- Record: N/A
2010- Record: 24-74= 33%
Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** I saw that the ageless wonder and multi-millionaire gelding Ben’s Cat is back to work.
With regular rider Trevor McCarthy riding at Gulfstream Park, jockey Victor Carrasco was aboard the now 11-year-old and recorded a three-furlong breeze last week at Laurel Park, getting the distance in an easy :37.2.
Ben’s Cat is owned and trained by Hall of Famer King Leatherbury.
“He went very nicely,” Leatherbury said. “We’re excited to have him back.”
“He was happy to get back and he looked good,” Leatherbury said.
A four-time Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, Ben’s Cat has recorded 32 wins (26 stakes)—and $2,642,282 in earnings from 60 starts.
Leatherbury said he would look for an overnight race to bring back as he has the past two years.
“We’ll see how he does and if he can cut the mustard. If he comes back in great shape and he runs good in his first start, then we can’t help but take another (he’s won the race an astonishing 5 times) shot at the Jim McKay,” he said. “That would be logical, but he’s going to have to run a lot better than he did his last three or four starts. Let’s see how he runs in the races first, whatever I run him in. He’s sound, so we’ll see what he can do.”
**** Tepin, the two-time champion grass mare, refused to work this past Monday at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.
“We weren’t going to breeze her until she got to Kentucky but she had been training really well so we thought we’d take her out and breeze her today,” trainer Mark Casse said. “She’s in heat and she kind of just didn’t want to do it and we didn’t force her”.
“I’m sure if Julien (Leparoux) had stood there for another five minutes or so she probably would have went. But we just said it wasn’t that big of a deal.” Casse added
Casse said after talking things over with owner Robert Masterson Monday, Tepin will be sent to Kentucky and will be watched closely at that point.
“That’s her happy place,” Casse said. “And if she’s not happy, that will be it (retired).”
“I mean that is her happy place and we said all along with Palm Meadows, some days she likes it and some days she doesn’t,” Casse said.
Perhaps she is taking lessons from stable-mate and champion 2-year-old male Classic Empire, also trained by Casse, who refused to break off for a planned work (again) March 19 at Palm Meadows.
Either way, that not a good sign……for either horse.
**** Unique Bella, the early favorite for the Kentucky Oaks, will be forced to miss that race due to a shin injury.
The 3-year-old daughter of Tapit has been taken out of training. She will also miss her next planned start in the Santa Anita Oaks April 8.
Unique Bella worked six furlongs in 1:11.1 at Santa Anita on March 19. But the injury was detected just recently.
“She has a shin that’s bothering her,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Tuesday. “We’ll give her a little time off.”
It is not known how much training time Unique Bella will miss.
Poor Jerry Hollendorfer …. this is the second straight year he will miss the Oaks as Champion Songbird missed the Kentucky Oaks last year due to illness.
**** Multiple graded stakes winner El Areeb has been forced to the sidelines after suffering a knee injury.
The 3-year-old colt by Exchange Rate came out of his Wednesday morning work at Laurel Park with a knee issue.
Trainer Cal Lynch said the colt will undergo surgery on Monday at New Bolton Center. He is expected to lose approximately six months of training.
“It’s the right knee, there’s a chip and maybe a slab [fracture],” Lynch said.
**** Although I’m not breaking down the race, multiple Graded Stakes winner Dortmund will see action in the Santana Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.
The Santana is run at a flat mile and with a purse of $75,000. The race clearly looks like a confidence builder for the strapping chestnut after a failed turf experiment in his last (Frank E. Kilroe Stakes on March 11).
“He blew out very well and I think he’s going to run a big race,” trainer Art Sherman said of the now 5-year-old, who went a half-mile in :46 flat March 25 at Los Alamitos, his only work between the Kilroe and the Santana Mile. “He’s training a lot better and he needed that race. Even though it was a lousy race, it opened his lungs a little bit and got him fit.”