Our highlighted race this week will be the $250,000, Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, a mile and a sixteenth contest for three year olds who are on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Additionally, we will be examining the Suwannee River Stakes at Gulfstream Park, a turf event for the ladies that will feature the all black Rymska.
Out at Santa Anita, we will be looking at the Grade: 2 Las Virgenes Stakes, where the talented Bellafina will make her second start of 2019, and the San Marcos Stakes, a 10 furlong turf contest for four year olds and up.
Lastly, on Sunday I wanted to break down the seven furlong San Vicente Stakes, a Grade; 2 event for three year olds. The race will feature stablemates against one another in the highly touted Coliseum and super impressive maiden winner Dessman, but as of Friday morning (my deadline for publishing), the race had not been drawn.
Before moving forward just a few notes about last weekend. The Holy Bull was a wild race from (before the) start to the finish.
Maximus Mischief was difficult to load into the gate but finally went in. He stalked the pace, took over late but clearly tired in deep stretch and checked in third. King Gladiator absolutely refused to load into the gate. It took upwards of 3 minutes to get him, kudos to the gate crew for their patience with him. While all that was going on, Garter and Tie did not have the same patience as the gate crew as he reared in the starting gate and catapulted Tyler Gafflione out of the saddle. He flew through the air for a split second and landed a few feet behind the gate. Thankfully both horse and rider were ok.
Harvey Wallbanger, who got the quintessential perfect trip and pace scenario, won it at 30-1 and Everlast came second at an eye popping 129-1. The two made for an $1,100 exacta.
Race seven on the Gulfstream card last Saturday had Elate’s half-brother, Haunt, and Tapwrit’s half-brother, Mass Appeal, making their respective racing debuts in the same race. Neither had an impact on the outcome as Haunt finished fourth but was beaten by almost 6 lengths, and Mass Appeal was seventh but beaten by almost 10 lengths.
Over at the Fair Grounds, Mine That Bird’s half-brother, Copper King and $1 million yearling purchase Rubin Hurricane, both made their racing debuts in the sixth race. Although both chased a runaway winner, Copper King did well to hold second, while Rubin Hurricane checked in fourth.
Saturday February 9, 2019
Race: 6 (2:27PM EST Post)
Suwannee River Stakes
Dating back to last year, Rymska has won four of her last six but her last race, where she finished sixth, is one of better races she has run. This absolutely drop dead gorgeous, (very rare) all black mare made up a dozen lengths in the last six furlongs of the Grade: 1 Matriarch at Del Mar and was only beaten by three lengths to upper echelon turf mare Uni. I don’t like the fact that she’s had multiple breaks in her career as it signals physical issues but I do like the fact that 2018 Eclipse Award winning jockey Irad Oritz Jr. hops off my second pick to ride this mare….that, readers, always gets my attention. “Unfortunately, she’s had some gaps in her racing due to some minor injuries here and there, but the ownership group has been very patient every time we’ve rested her to get her right,” trainer Chad Brown said. “When she is right, she’s very good.”….agreed Mr. Brown…….logical choice here…………………………….Special Event is another in a long line of well bred, good looking, stretch runners from the Shug McGaughey barn. This mare by Arch out of Graded Stakes winner Le Reina, who has ridiculously good bloodlines herself, is consistent (8 for 11 on the board including 5 of 6 on the board on the turf) and shows two excellent turf works in the month of January………………….Valedictorian had a very good 2018 campaign while posting an 8-3-3-0 record. Mare by Temple City ran an even third last time out in the Marshua’s River and likes this turf course. My only hesitation is she is showing me little hints of cycling out of form……………………….Honorable Mentions: It’s quite the contrary for Conquest Hardcandy, who’s form is on an uptick, indicating she could be sitting on a big race here…………………… Vagabond Princess has run bang up in her last three races to end 2018. That said she will be taking a big step up in class and the fact still remains she was 0 for 8 last year……………If you are hunting for a long-shot in here, take a look at Peach of a Gal, who is 3 for 8 on the turf and, while being five wide at the quarter pole, she made up a ton of ground late in her last at almost 30-1 (My Play: $40 win and place on Rymska. Cost $80.00)
Tampa Bay Downs
Race: 11 (5:15 PM EST Post)
Sam F. Davis Stakes
Try as I may, and trust me I tried hard, I can’t seem to get around (beat) Knicks Go in this spot. I really don’t think the off track had much to do with his abysmal performance in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill in his last (Nov 24). I think the fact that this gray son of Paynter, who pulled off a colossal upset in the Breeders Futurity (70-1), then ran his eyeballs out in chasing 2YO Champion Game Winner (second at 40-1) in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, was tired or bounced in that race, which was just three weeks later. The 10 weeks off he’s had should help and he’s been training lights out for this his 2019 debut………..play “Pin the tail on the Donkey” with the rest of this very well matched field. I’ll go with Kentucky Wildcat next as this well-bred (by Tapit out of Grade:1 winner Better Lucky, by Ghostzapper) has improved with each subsequent start. He’ll be making a quantum leap in class but he might be up to the task and run well here………………………….The well named Five Star General wired maidens two back then wired a Stakes field at Aqueduct last time out, making him two for three in his career. Like the top pick, this good looking colt has been training very well of late………………………..Honorable Mentions: I might be taking Cave Run a little too lightly here. After blowing the doors off maidens in his racing debut, this colt chased Win Win Win in a track record setting performance and still finished third last time out. He meets no such rival here………………………….I might be underestimating Still Dreaming, who is not only named as a play on words for Always Dreaming but is a half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, also. This $460,000 son of Flatter finished fourth in his debut but came back six weeks later to break his maiden by three lengths in nothing more than a hand gallop. Threat if he improves again in this spot…………………..So Alive is two for three in his career and owns a win over this surface while beating high level optionals last time out. Nice work (4F- :48.2) at Palm Beach Downs last week for this son of Super Saver also. (My Play: .50 trifecta using the top 5. Cost $30.00)
Santa Anita Park
Race: 5 (4:30 PM EST Post)
Las Virgenes Stakes
After just missing being voted Champion Two Year Old Filly for 2018, Bellafina was nothing short of brilliant in her 2019 debut. This beautiful, $800,000 filly by Quality Road took over the Santa Ynez Stakes leaving the half mile pole, opened up 5 on the field after six furlongs in 1:09 flat and cruised under the wire 8 ½ in front, stopping the clock in a very good 1:22 for seven panels while under no pressure from her rider whatsoever. She improved her record to 4 for 6 that day and is 2 for 2 at “The Great Race Place”………solid choice………………Enaya Alrabb came within about 12 inches from pulling off a colossal (30-1) upset in the Grade: 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos last time out. This bay filly was beaten by American Pharoah’s little sister Chasing Yesterday in that race after breaking her maiden nicely in her race prior to that. She won’t be 30-1 in this spot and figures on the board with a repeat of that effort here…………………… Mother Mother is a $450,000, speedy and talented filly by Pioneerof the Nile. From the powerhouse Bob Baffert barn, she has yet to be off the board in five career starts but, more importantly, I love the pure guts this filly has shown in all of her races. That said, she’s faced Bellafina twice and was beaten by a total of almost 13 lengths, so I’m thinking she might have a hard time turning the tables here….she does look the best of the rest however. (My Play: Pass… this race offers zero value.)
Race: 9 (6:30 PM EST Post)
San Marcos Stakes
Chicago Style won the Grade: 2 Hollywood Turf Cup two back and was beaten by a little over one length in the San Gabriel last time out. The fact that this son of Kitten’s Joy is 6 for 9 on the turf everywhere and 3-0-0-0 on this turf course is a bit daunting, but he still looks best here…………………..Dabster is a $1 million son of Curlin who boasts a strong 12-5-2-2 career mark and has been chasing the likes of City of Light, American Anthem, Catalina Cruiser and Battle of Midway (twice) throughout his career…..get my drift here? ….Of course the elephants in the room are a) Will he like the turf course? And b) how will he handle the 10 furlong distance? It’s tough to answer those questions as he’s never tried either. That said, he is by Curlin, who now stands for $175,000, and his dam has thrown two turf winners………………….Beach View has been on the board in six of eight turf tries in his career and was running at my top pick late in the Hollywood Turf Cup (beaten by just 1 ½ lengths). This son of the late, great Giant’s Causeway likes this surface and distance as well………………………Honorable Mentions: Epical buried lesser “on the engine” his last two times out. Although it was against optional $62,500 claimers, his last race really stands out as he stopped the clock in an excellent 1:46 and change for nine furlongs…..figures prominent throughout here……………….Sejo gets the “dark horse” tag in this race as I have no idea how this colt by Nathaniel will run in this spot. All I know is he is 2 for 4 on the turf in France, he is trained by John Sadler and he’s had a series of strong stamina building works for this………………Unapologetic has methodically gotten better and better through his last four races dating back to last July. Although he has been beating up on lesser recently, he does come into this race in good form……………………….Platinum Warrior is just 2 for 11 both here and abroad but finished within shouting distance of Chicago Style last time out. (My Play: $5.00 exacta box using the top 3. Cost: $30.00)
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2019- Record: 9-22 = 41% (My Plays: -$354.36)
2018- Record: 107-261= 41%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 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
**** New York Racing Association’s Board of Directors has confirmed that the vote in favor of extending the 2019 race meet at Saratoga has been approved.
Originally, the plan was to start the meeting on July 19 and race six days per week through Labor Day (Sept. 2).
The new schedule moves opening day back to July 11 with racing five days per week.
The necessity for a schedule change is reported to be related to upcoming construction on the new hockey arena at Belmont Park.
**** Cowboy Diplomacy, a full brother to 2018 three year old champion filly Monomoy Girl, is scheduled to make his career debut in Friday’s seventh race at Oaklawn Park, a six furlong contest with a post time of about 4:15 PM EST
“They’re identical to physically look at,” trainer Brad Cox said. “For the most part, they’re very similar-looking horses. It’s hard to believe. Either he looks like a filly or she looks like a colt. We’re hoping he has just a touch of the ability she has, and he’ll be all right because she’s obviously a racehorse.”
Agent Liz Crow, who purchased the colt for Pocket Aces (75% owner) and Sol Kumin (25% owner), said minor shin issues kept Cowboy Diplomacy from running at 2.
The chestnut colt recorded eight breezes, highlighted by 5 furlong bullet workout from the gate of :59.3 on Jan. 20.
“It’s funny,” Crow said. “I think he’s shown more in the mornings than she did initially because she wasn’t really highly thought of before she was breezing in the beginning of her career. It took her a while to put it all together, whereas he seems to really be putting it together in the mornings. Breezing :59 and change out of the gate wasn’t something she really did in the mornings.”
**** The immensely popular and very handsome Mubtaahij has been retired from racing and will most likely head to South America for stud duty, according to bloodstock agent Donato Lanni.
The Grade:1 winner, who was trained by Mike de Kock, Kiaran McLaughlin, and Bob Baffert during his career, is currently stabled at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms in Kentucky and doesn’t have a stallion deal finalized yet, but he will most likely stand his first season in Argentina, Lanni said, because “interest in America was bleak.”
“He’s going to stand in Argentina, but we don’t know where yet,” Lanni said of the 7-year-old son of Dubawi. “We’d love to stand him here, but we’ll start there and see what happens. I believe in the horse, but, unfortunately, I don’t have 100 mares to breed to him. He’s bred for turf, but he’s made like a classic dirt horse.”
Mubtaahij won or placed in 10 grade/group events and earned more than $5.7 million for owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum.