Posts Tagged ‘Handsome Mike’

Spiral Stakes 2012 Recap – Went The Day Well rolls home

The lone graded Kentucky Derby 2012 prep at Turfway Park was run on Saturday and Went The Day Well emerged as a contender on the first Saturday in May after cruising home in the G3 Spiral Stakes for Graham Motion and Team Valor.

G3 Spiral (3-24-12): 92 BSF (Went The Day Well)

Went The Day Well

Is Went The Day Well the next Animal Kingdom? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Heavy Breathing carved out the early splits for Todd Pletcher, with Went The Day Well positioned perfectly behind the speed along the rail under John Velazquez.

Pletcher’s other colt Holiday Promise was sitting midpack at almost 26-1 and expected early runner Handsome Mike broke 12th and last after losing his footing and getting bumped at the start.

Heavy Breathing put away overmatched pace rivals Ill Conceived and Coach Royal but Went The Day Well was always traveling smoothly and passed the front runner after six furlongs.

Holiday Promise made a wide move and tried to gain on the new leader but got a bit weary in late stretch while settling for runner-up honors.

Heavy Breathing was a comfortable 3rd and was followed across the line by Handsome Mike, Stealcase, All Squared Away, Ill Conceived, Russian Greek, Tizanexpense, Red Jack, Mr. Prankster, and Coach Royal.

Went The Day Well picked up $282,000 in graded earnings on March 24, which should be more than enough to make the Derby gate. The promising son of Proud Citizen handles dirt, turf, and synthetic, and Motion/Team Valor have plenty of options with the versatile sort this year. He was green in the Turfway stretch before kicking away to win by 3-1/2 lengths. He has some catching up to do and seems a cut or two below the best at this stage. The G3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 21 could be next.

It should be noted that Animal Kingdom won the Spiral Stakes and Kentucky Derby for Graham Motion, Team Valor, and John Velazquez last year…deja vu all over again?

Spiral Stakes Grade: C+ (78 out of 100)

 

 

Spiral Stakes 2012 Preview – Wide Open Kentucky Derby Prep

Will the next Animal Kingdom emerge from the shadows at Turfway Park on Saturday? One thing is for sure. The Grade 3 Spiral Stakes is a wide open Derby prep race and the winner will have the necessary graded earnings to make the starting gate in Kentucky Derby 2012.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

#11 Stealcase (10-1) is worth a stab at double digit odds. He had a troubled start in a 6th of 13 performance behind Hansen in the G3 Gotham Stakes. He ran into multiple next out winners in his first few starts including promising runners Thunder Moccasin, Ender Knievel, and Windsurfer. He looked good in Gulfstream dirt route maiden tally Jan 19 and can compete here if he handles the footing. The Mark Casse runner dons the hood and sports a bullet for this engagement.

#4 Went The Day Well (4-1) is an interesting contender for Graham Motion/Team Valor. He landed the place in both Great Britain turf starts last year and graduated in a flat mile special weight affair at Gulfstream Park March 3.

#12 Handsome Mike (4-1) dueled and held the show in the G3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb 18. He handles any footing but appears best on turf. Joel Rosario rides.

#1 Russian Greek (10-1) captured two synthetic route stakes events at Golden Gate Fields and was last seen splitting a 10-horse field in the aforementioned El Camino Real Derby. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee dons the hood and attracts Nakatani.

#3 Heavy Breathing (3-1) easily captured both Gulfstream starts for Todd Pletcher. He is an obvious threat if he handles synthetic ground but probably won’t offer much value.

Pletcher also has #5 Holiday Promise (12-1). He donned the hood and landed the place when last seen at Laurel Park Feb 20.

#7 Ill Conceived (8-1) just missed in the Battaglia, the local prep for this. He will not get away with an easy lead this time and might find nine panels a bit much.

#9 Tizanexpense (15-1) failed to fire from post 11 in the G2 Risen Star last time. He was making steady progress before that and is not without a chance in a tough handicapping puzzle. Michael Maker conditions the son of Tiznow.

Maker also saddles #10 Mr. Prankster (12-1) and leading Fair Grounds jockey Rosie Napravnik is in to ride. He flopped in the Battaglia but won back-to-back local stakes races before that.

#8 Coach Royal (15-1) dons the hood and goes turf/synthetic. The is ambitious spot for the well-bred maiden.

#6 All Squared Away (30-1) will likely attend the pace for sharp SoCal trainer Peter Miller. He faded in the El Camino Real and will probably do the same today.

#2 Red Jack (30-1) has dropped all four starts this year for Wayne Lukas. He graduated in a turf route and failed to fire in lone all-weather route last year.

The Plays: $20 to win/place #11 Stealcase

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: El Camino Real Derby

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 made a pit stop in Northern California on Feb 18 and Daddy Nose Best edged Lucky Chappy in a thrilling renewal of the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

Kentucky Derby logo 2012

G3 El Camino Real Derby (2-18-12): 92 BSF (Daddy Nose Best)

I am not sure that the El Camino Real was a serious Kentucky Derby prep but it was an exciting race. Daddy Nose Best was full of run and just waiting for an opening, and the tactical threat made his move at the same time as late runner Lucky Chappy. The two shippers battled down the lane with the Steve Asmussen trainee getting the bob.

If I had to pick one of the top two in regards to making the Derby field, I would have to side with Daddy Nose Best. He landed the place in his dirt sprint bow at Churchill last summer and his dam sire Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby in 1995. He owns a decent late kick and showed nice positional speed on Saturday.

Irish bred Lucky Chappy is expected to contest Dubai’s UAE Derby at Meydan for trainer Graham Motion on March 31.

Show finisher Handsome Mike now has stakes placings on turf and synthetic. Doug O’Neill’s versatile colt handles any footing and gave sire Scat Daddy a 1-3 finish in the El Camino Real.

El Camino Real Derby Grade: C

El Camino Real Derby 2012 Preview: Daddy Nose Best

Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby is the lone graded route in Northern California’s road to Kentucky Derby 2012 and Daddy Nose Best should offer a hint of value for Steve Asmussen.

Kentucky Derby 2012

#1 Daddy Nose Best (9-2) began his career splitting a pair of subsequent stakes winners (Exfactor, Dullahan) in a Churchill dirt sprint. He disappointed second time out but started to hit his best stride with added ground on the turf. Asmussen won this with Silver Medallion last year and that one also exited Santa Anita’s grassy Eddie Logan Stakes. Leparoux strings along and he shows five works for this.

#6 Lucky Chappy (7-2) brought strong Italian form to Keeneland for his US bow last fall and was hardly disgraced in a G3 Bourbon show finish. He followed that up with a troubled 4th from post 11 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and prepped for this with a runner-up effort in the Jan 21 Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream. The Graham Motion trainee is a late running threat if he handles the Tapeta footing.

#7 Handsome Mike (8-1) is an interesting price player. The versatile SoCal shipper finished 4th in the G3 Sham (dirt), 7th in the G1 CashCall Futurity (synthetic), and 2nd in the G3 Generous (turf). He dons the hood and looms a pace factor at the very least.

#10 Lady of Fifty (5-1) is a filly taking on the boys and she might be the best local hope. She ran faster than the gents in the Cal Oaks but seems most effective on the lead and meets other speed. She must overcome the outside post but her task is not impossible.

#4 Russian Greek (5-2) is 2-for-2 in local routes and exits a fine late running score in the $100,000 Cal Derby. His numbers are a bit light but the $100k Keeneland sales grad packs a decent late kick and will be finishing for the productive Gryder-Hollendorfer team.

#3 Cahill Chrome (10-1) was tagged in a surprise place finish in the Cal Derby. He owns fine early-pressing speed and likes this oval but is probably a cut below the best in here.

#2 Senor Rain (12-1) finished an even 3rd in the Cal Derby and will need to show more to make a dent in this tougher event.

#8 Rockinarz Recruit (20-1) stretches out in distance and will probably show speed. He remains eligible for an entry level spot and is probably in over his head today.

#5 Unveiled Heat (20-1) broke his maiden on turf in his 9th career start. He finished 5th in the Cal Derby at 18-1 and looks like an outsider in this spot.

#9 All Squared Away (20-1) broke his maiden in a local route Jan 22 but he controlled the pace that day and did not earn much of a number. He is overmatched in the paper race.

The Plays:

$24 to win #1

$10 Quinella 1-6

$6 Quinella 1-7

 

 

Sham Stakes 2012 Preview: Secret Circle Tries Two Turns

Undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint hero Secret Circle seeks to join the serious Kentucky Derby 2012 chase as he navigates two turns for the first time in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Secret Circle

Will Secret Circle remain undefeated? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Bob Baffert’s fleet colt is the fastest 3-year-old in the West but if he wants to remain on the Derby trail he will need to learn how to ration his speed. The talented son of Eddington, out of Dixieland Band mare Ragtime Hope, figures to get a pace test from G1 CashCall Futurity 7th place finisher Handsome Mike.

Hierro could be the goods for Steve Asmussen. The Hard Spun colt hooked G1 Champagne runner-up Alpha in his bow and was 2nd to G2 Remsen runner-up Souper Speedy second time out. It was his turn to shine in facile maiden breaker under the Twin Spires Nov 9 and he is training well at the Great Race Place.

Out of Bounds is another exiting a sharp graduation run. He earned his diploma in a Cushion Track extended sprint at Hollywood Park Dec 10 and his dam Unbridled Elaine captured the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Longview Drive adds blinkers and might be part of the pace under Joel Rosario. He rallied for the show when last seen in a weak renewal of the G3 Delta Jackpot.

Senor Rain will break from the rail and doesn’t seem to class up. He graduated in a maiden claiming sprint and his other win was in the starter allowance ranks. He did finish 3rd behind subsequent 1-2 CashCall Futurity finishers in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood in November.

The Plays:

$20 to win Hierro
$10 Exacta Box Hierro, Out of Bounds

Grading the 2012 Kentucky Derby Preps: CashCall Futurity

The G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec 17 was the last major  Kentucky Derby 2012 prep of the current racing season and at this point I would say that it was not a strong renewal.

CashCall Futurity (12-17-11) – 91 BSF (Liaison)

I wrote a CashCall recap in my latest Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders blog and below is what I said about the players. The top seven finishers were separated by three lengths so the overall strength of the race is a bit suspect, especially with a CA-bred finishing 2nd and a maiden landing the show. The top two (Liaison, Rousing Sermon) also finished 1-2 in the Real Quiet Stakes (C- grade). Maybe the Real Quiet should have been rated higher, or we have a mediocre West Coast group on our hands. I have a feeling it is the latter. Grade: C

The road to the 2012 Kentucky Derby made a pit stop at Hollywood Park last weekend and Liaison got the job done in a professional manner for trainer Bob Baffert.

The son of recently deceased sire Indian Charlie owns fine tactical speed and has a nose for the wire. He once again got the best of Rousing Sermon and the top two validated the strength of the Real Quiet Stakes.

Maidens always seem to make some noise on the Derby Trail. In 2009, Make Music For Me placed behind Lookin At Lucky in a pair of graded events and graduated in a grass stakes event the following year. Santiva landed the place in the 2010 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland before earning his diploma in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. At this point in 2011, the talented maiden award goes to Brother Francis.

The son of Lion Heart, trained by James Cassidy, followed up a rallying place finish in the G3 Hollywood Prevue with a solid show finish in the CashCall Futurity. Will he return to the maiden ranks or continue to compete against stakes foes?

Sky Kingdom was bumped at the start and missed the CashCall show by a ½ length. The Baffert trainee was hardly disgraced in his first start against winners and remains a decent long range prospect.

Empire Way was 5th in the CashCall and should continue to improve with added ground and experience. Blingo was a nose behind him in 6th for John Shirreffs, followed by Handsome Mike (pressured throughout), Cozzetti, and a badly tailing off Drill.

Majestic City attended the pace before faltering to finish 10th. He is clearly best sprinting. Basmati checked in behind him and solidified the weakness of the Delta Jackpot.

CashCall Futurity 2011 Preview: Majestic City Seeks Better

The Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park gives 2012 Kentucky Derby hopefuls an opportunity to earn a nice chunk of change at the end of their juvenile campaigns. Morning line favorite Majestic City has already garnered $245,570 and tries to add to his bankroll on Saturday.

Majestic City

Majestic City loves Cushion Track - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Trainer Peter Miller captured the CashCall Futurity last year with Comma to the Top and he is back for more with the aforementioned Majestic City. The fleet son of City Zip is 3-for-3 at Hollywood Park and recently hot Aqueduct jock Ramon Dominguez flies in for the mount. Distance is the major hurdle as he has yet to win beyond six furlongs. He removes the hood and is firing local bullets for this.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert takes three cracks at the $750,000 pot and Sky Kingdom looks like an interesting contender. The $180k son of Empire Maker, out of a Kingmambo mare, figured to relish two turns and showed marked improvement on the stretch out in a sharp course/distance maiden breaker Nov 24. Garrett Gomez hops aboard and he fired a strong six furlong bullet at Santa Anita on Dec 11.

Liaison shoots for his third straight win for Baffert. He looked good in the Real Quiet Stakes here last time and tries to win one for his sire Indian Charlie, who succumbed to cancer earlier this week.

The third and final Baffert entrant is Drill, and the enigmatic sort exits back-to-back disappointing efforts in the G1 BC Juvenile and G3 Delta Jackpot. He is reportedly training well and both wins occurred on synthetic but he is hard to recommend in his current form.

John Shirreffs rarely strikes with a first time starter but he did just that with Blingo, who rallied strongly to capture his flat mile turf bow by 2-1/4 lengths. He has the Zenyatta connections in his corner and could easily be this good.

Handsome Mike drew the rail and figures to play catch me if you can under Corey Nakatani. The recent Reddam/O’Neill private purchase is on the upswing and showed high octane speed in his G3 Generous show finish at a flat mile on the turf last time.

Rousing Sermon, the CalCup Juvenile winner, always runs his race and exits a place finish behind Liaison in the Real Quiet. Joe Talamo got to know the Hollendorfer trainee last time and the hard knocking CA-bred is a proven router and can make an impact at 6-1.

Dale Romans has been a fixture on the Triple Crown scene in recent years and he hopes to enjoy another wild ride with Cozzetti. The juvenile son of Cozzene exits a romping maiden win in the Churchill slop and worked over Cushion Track on Dec 11.

Basmati returns to SoCal after landing the place in the G3 Delta Jackpot but the number from that $1 million showcase came back light. He handles synthetic ground and must work out a trip from a tough post under profitable rider Hector Berrios.

Brother Francis is still a maiden after two starts but did flash ability both times including a fine runner-up effort in the G3 Hollywood Prevue. The ambitiously placed non-winner tries two turns for the first time and is listed at 20-1 on the line.

Royal Delta’s baby bro Empire Way was visually impressive in his local bow but did not earn much of a number. He came back in less than two weeks and beat one horse home in the aforementioned Hollywood Prevue. The longer the better for the stretch runner and he should continue to develop but he has not run fast enough to be competitive in this type of race.

Desormais is an overseas transplant now under the care of Paddy Gallagher. He can run on day based on his ten furlong synthetic score in France on Nov 15 but landed the unlucky thirteen hole and could not have found a tougher spot for his US bow.

Speaking of maidens, Groovin’ Solo finished out of the top three in both Del Mar sprint starts. The 50-1 outsider removes the hood and needs an easier spot.

The $40 Play:

$20 to win Sky Kingdom

$10 Quinella Sky Kingdom/Liaison

$5 Quinella Sky Kingdom/Handsome Mike, Blingo

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