This weekend’s highlighted race in our Horse Racing “Race of the Week” takes us to Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for Sunday’s $400,000 Springboard Mile for two years olds.
The aptly named race, contested at a flat mile, drew a field of 12 led by Greyvitos and Redatory.
Elsewhere, we will also be heading to Gulfstream Park for a look at three more races, the My Charmer Stakes, the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes and the Tropical Turf Stakes.
It was good weekend. I had three of the four winners and two exactas.
Willa on the Move
Ms. Locust Point was allowed a long and uncontested early lead as she wired this group with ease. Especially after Ivy Bell (my pick) completely missed the break, probably spotting the field 3-4 lengths right from the beginning. She was coming hard, late but the awful break was too much for her to overcome. Heck, I thought she ran lights out in finishing second after a start like that.
Wild race! The vaunted McKinzie, who was on the rail, took over this race at the quarter pole with 18-1 Instilled Regard to his outside. The pair went step for step down the lane. At that point, Solomini began to bear down on the both of them on the far outside. This is where this race got dicey. McKinzie, who never felt the whip before, bore “out” from left-handed urging by jockey Mike Smith. At the same time, Solomini bore “in” and together they squeezed Instilled Regard badly. At the wire, Solomini surged for the win and McKinzie “headed” Instilled Regard for the place spot. The inquiry sign went up almost immediately after the race and the stewards looked at it for several minutes. The decision was made to disqualify Solomini to third, move McKinzie to the win slot and Instilled Regard up to second. I have to say…bad call….I believe both Solomini AND McKinzie should have been “taken down” as they were both equally at fault. Even though the DQ put my pick McKinzie into the win slot, it was still a bad call. I know it’s very rare to see a double disqualification in this sport, but this situation called for it. Lastly, it was almost 30 lengths back to the fourth place finisher.
With the speedy War Heroine (my pick) scratched, I defaulted to my second pick Dream Tree, who went off at 2/5 and won like a 2/5 shot should. She stalked early pace maker Yesterday’s News (in just a four horse field), took over turning for home and the three lengths she won by did no justice as to how dominant she was. Yesterday’s News held well for second.
Champions Day Classic
Along with the Cashcall Futurity, this was the co-best race of the weekend! Mobile Bay, my pick, blew out of the gate and opened up as much as a 10 length lead going down the backside and I was ready to fly to the Fair Grounds and personally crucify his rider. As they reached the quarter pole that 10 length lead had whittled down to as little as a neck by Grande Basin, who had made a very nice move on the turn. These two horses laid it all on the line as they went stride for stride, head and head, nose to nose down the entire length of the stretch with Mobile Bay absolutely refusing to “give way”. In the end, he hung on to win by a nostril with Grande Basin second and Underpressure, who had a “pocket trip” all the way around, was a “right there” third. Although a nose and one length separated the top three finishers, the other two horses in this race were nine and fifteen lengths further back.
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Race: 8 (3:35 PM EST Post)
My Charmer Stakes
On Leave – is a gray, stretch running filly by War Front who has been on the board in 11 of 13 career starts, including six wins. She was last seen rallying up the rail in the Grade: 2 Goldikova Stakes at Del Mar on one of the Breeders Cup undercard races while finishing third, beaten by just 2+ lengths. Her speed figures are higher and more consistent than anyone else’s in this field and she should get a sufficient pace to “run into” in this spot…..looks best……………On paper, Stormy Victoria looks to be the only real threat to the top pick. Another gray, this mare’s last three races on firm footing (which is the turf condition I am expecting on Saturday) have all been bang up efforts with speed figures that are in the same stratosphere as On Leave’s. The bullet work over the notoriously deep Payson Park training surface (4F- :48.3) should help her in this spot and I’m going to ignore that 1 for 10 record at this distance as it is a little deceiving……………Gianna’s Dream – has won three of her last four vs. lesser out of town. However, filly by Twirling Candy merits respect in her current form………………….Honorable Mentions: Inside Out – probably needed her last, as it was her first start in almost five months. Her rider moving too soon in that race also didn’t help matters. Bottom line here is, with a race under her belt off a layoff and rider switch/upgrade, she could be a menace in this spot………………….Josdesanimaux – is 4 for 9 over this turf course and 1 for 11 everywhere else, so it’s safe to say this is her favorite surface/track. The “Horse for the Course” angle always gets my attention but what’s up with the several short breaks in her career since July of 2016? That, readers, signals physical issues to me.
Race: 9 (4:06 PM EST Post)
If Page McKenney is going to win this race and record win #21 in his career, he is going to have to bounce back from a sub par effort where he split the field in the Richard Small Stakes at Laurel in his last. This ageless wonder (seven year old), who has been first or second an astonishing 35 times in 52 career races, won his two prior races at Parx, which has me thinking that ankle issue he’s been dealing with for the past several years had nothing to do with his defeat when originally I thought it did. “He had some behavioral issues, which is really out of character for him, before the Richard Small last time out. He couldn’t be a more laid back horse. He just wasn’t himself that day,” said owner Adam Staple. “He didn’t run a bad race that day. He got stuck between horses, got bounced around the first turn, and ran fairly evenly, but he was acting up coming out of the receiving barn and something just wasn’t right.”….Hopefully, everything will be “right” come Saturday afternoon………………….Fear the Cowboy – is in pretty good racing form, is consistent (7 of 9 on the board in 2017), loooooooooves this oval (5-3-1-1 over it) and gets a pretty serious rider upgrade (Rios to Castellano). Add all that up and you should come up with a horse who could run well in this spot…………………I hate to repeat myself about Destin but this $400,000 son of Giant’s Causeway is a nose shy of being a classical, Grade: 1 winner (in the 2106 Belmont Stakes). He’s only won two of seven since and, albeit he is two for four at this distance, I still think he’s better at 10 furlongs or more. Regardless, he merits respect in this spot…………………Honorable Mentions: Mr. Jordan, the almost white, five year old gelding by Kantharos, bounced back from an abysmal effort two starts back to win the Million Classic Preview by a colossal margin in his last. Just two things bother me however. One, off that last race, he looks ready to bounce as high as the sun in this spot and two, every time I look at that 0 for 8 record he sports on this surface it keeps “punching me in the nose”…………………Flatlined – has ability and a pair of super good works coming into this. The problem I’m seeing with him is he has done most of his “damage” on the turf and is just 1 for 7 in his career on the dirt.
Race: 10 (4:37 Pm EST Post)
Tropical Turf Stakes
Blacktype – disappointed as the 7/5 favorite in his last at Aqueduct but had won his two prior including the Grade: 2 Knickerbocker Handicap. Going back 17 months, His lowest speed figure is a 95…that’s impressive. This son of Dunkerque, who stands in France for a little over $2000, looks best in this spot………………..When trainer Roger Attfield finally gave Tower of Texas a class drop (in his last two) this gelding by Street Sense responded with a very good, late running fourth at Laurel and a very nice win over a yielding turf course at Woodbine in Canada. This spot/race should hit this horse right between the eyes. Oh, and one other thing, I’m thinking Attfield, who is perhaps one of the most underrated trainers in the history of mankind, is coming an awful long way (Toronto to south Florida) for this race. That in turn makes me think he is “here for a reason, not the season”……………I’ve always like Camelot Kitten even though he didn’t blossom into the horse I thought he might be. This handsome son of Kitten’s Joy has been first or second in eight of 14 career starts and finished within shouting distance of my top pick twice in his last two races………….Honorable Mentions: Le Ken – was an absolute win machine in his native country of Argentina last year and held his own vs. some of the elite grass runners on the West Coast in his first two U.S. starts. You can go ahead and throw out his last race as sprinting on the dirt is not really his forte. Albeit, he does appear to be cycling out of form, I’m wondering if the return to the grass surface could “wake him up”………………………..Shakhimat – is in very good form right now based off his last two races, including finishing right behind stable mate Tower of Texas in his last……………….All Included – has the ability to either win this race or, at the very least, run well. This son of Include will be making his first start in almost seven months but he has run well “off the bench” before.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Race: 11 (7:40 PM EST Post)
The Springboard Mile
Greyvitos – broke his maiden in his third career start by wiring the field in the Grade: 3 Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar in his last. This gray son of Malibu Moon improved his speed figures 30 points from start #1 to start #2 and another 30 points (to a 93, by far the highest in this field) in start #2 to start #3. That is impressive….your winner assuming he can adjust from the West Coast surfaces to the Remington surface……………….Redatory – is 2 for 2 over this oval and in his career, including winning a $100,000 Stakes race in just his second career start in his last under a “heads up” ride by David Cabrera………looks next best……………Believe in Royalty – is a $900,000 gray colt who is “royally” bred. By super-sire Tapit out of 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, this horse is a length shy of coming into this unbeaten for trainer Larry Jones. She’s won her last two at Laurel, including crushing a mid level optional claimer field in her last. I like the upward trend in the speed figure department through her first three races (59, 60 and 78) and if she continues to improve (and I suspect she will) she could be a menace here…………….……Honorable Mentions: I like several things about Bode’s Maker as he is handsome and by Bodemeister. He also owns a very strong late run and is getting better as the distances get longer. He clearly likes this surface and his last two stretch runs (a win and a second) were visually impressive to watch…….could easily better this rating…………..Flat Lucky – is also a stretch runner who should improve with more distance. Colt by Flat Out finished right behind Redatory and Bode’s Maker in his last………………I’m not sure if the stretch out to a mile or the addition of Lasix did the trick, but Soul P Say broke his maiden by 5 in his last, getting the last quarter mile in a very good :24.3. This $3,500 son of Soldat has worked well subsequently too, so you may not want to completely “go to sleep” on him…………Combatant– is a $320,000 son of Scat Daddy who used a four wide move on the turn to break his maiden (on the dirt) in his last. He looked good pulling away late, but it did take him a very pedestrian-like :26 seconds to negotiate the final quarter of a mile……………………. Just as a side note, I can’t believe that someone paid $105,000 to name their horse Brangelina…’Nuff said.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2017- Record: 88-225 = 39%
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
**** In the response to the devastation caused at San Luis Rey Downs by the Lilac Fire, Coolmore and Mike Repole announced they are donating a non-guaranteed 2018 season to sire Uncle Mo, who stands for $125,000.
“Everyone at Coolmore has been moved by what we have seen happen in Southern California and we hope by donating this season we will be able to provide some comfort to those who need it most,” said Coolmore America manager Dermot Ryan.
A tip of the hat to Repole and Coolmore…..this obviously dwarfs what Denise and I donated last week but it’s all relative I suppose. Thank you to all who have donated their time, money or resources to help the communities that have been devastated by these wildfires.
**** Ditto Taylor Made Farms who have donated a non-guaranteed season to California Chrome to aid backstretch workers most affected by the fires in California.
“California Chrome was always called `The People’s Horse’, so we only thought it fitting that the funds raised from this season donation would help the people affected by this tragedy.” said Duncan Taylor, Taylor Made Farm President & CEO.
**** California Horse Racing Board officials announced that most of the horses stabled at San Luis Rey Training Center, at the time of the Dec. 7 fire that tore through the facility, have been accounted for.
That statement came from CHRB spokesman Mike Marten and CHRB equine medical director Rick Arthur.
Arthur said “39 or 40” of the 46 dead have been identified, but some have been “burned beyond recognition,” and may never be identified to a level of certainty.
“Some are hopeful their horses are still running around in the hills,” Arthur said. “We don’t think that’s likely.”
Arthur and Marten also reported the death of a 47th horse who was stabled at San Luis Rey during the fire who died from complications related to colic at a local clinic. They hesitated to add the horse to the official death toll from the fire, because it is unclear if the colic was brought on by the blaze.
“Whether it’s attributable to the fire or not, we’re not going to argue with anyone who thinks it is,” said Arthur, who also mentioned there is still one horse in “critical condition” from the fire.
**** 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner (and probable Horse of the Year) Gun Runner had his second timed work Dec. 10 at Fair Grounds Race Course in preparation for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park.
The chestnut colt worked five furlongs in 1:02 2/5. His first work Dec. 3 was an easy half-mile in :51 2/5.
“It was pretty on par, on schedule, working backward every Sunday morning from the Pegasus,” said David Fiske, racing manager of Winchell Thoroughbreds. “Nothing exciting, just gradually getting him ramped up. They’ll gradually get longer and more serious. He’ll get with company three or four works out, gradually get faster and farther. We’ll just keep turning the dial up.”
The Pegasus will be Gun Runner’s last race before going to stud at Three Chimneys Farm near Lexington. His stud fee will be $70,000 for 2018.
**** Multiple Stakes winner Three Rules will make his return to the races on Saturday in the 7th race at Tampa Bay Downs, the Marion County Florida Sire Stakes.
The seven-furlong FTBOA Marion County Florida Sire Stakes for 3 year old colts and geldings will be a rematch between Three Rules and stakes winner Mo Cash.
The two met July 1 in the Carry Back Stakes at Gulfstream Park, with Three Rules running down Mo Cash in the final furlong to win by a neck.