Archive for February 20th, 2012

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: San Vicente

Sunday’s Grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita marked the much anticipated return of Kentucky Derby 2012 hopeful Creative Cause but Drill spoiled the comeback party.

San Vicente Stakes (2-19-12): 94 BSF (Drill)

Drill horse

Drill got back on beam in San Vicente - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The San Vicente was reduced to a compact field of four after scratches and American Act made the running with Drill tracking the pace. Creative Cause was wide in last but raced within striking range throughout.

It was basically a two-horse race throughout with Drill wearing down American Act. Creative Cause found his best stride late and Let’s Get Crackin completed the quartet.

Drill beat Creative Cause in the G1 Del Mar Futurity last summer but lost to that rival in the G1 Norfolk. He tailed off badly in four subsequent stakes starts but got back on the beam for the recently hot Martin Garcia/Bob Baffert team. I once considered Drill a Derby hopeful and it was nice to see him rebound but he seemingly has distance limitations and took advantage of a perfect situation on Sunday.

Creative Cause was the overwhelming favorite and probably should have captured the San Vicente even if he was not fully cranked. On the other hand, this extended sprint was just a starting point to his sophomore campaign and he was already is great shape on the Derby graded earnings list. He finished up well and galloped out strongly in a useful prep for bigger spring goals.

American Act ran well in his first start vs. winners for Jack Carava. He beat highly regarded Baffert runner Bodemeister in his maiden breaker and is on the upswing.

San Vicente Stakes Grade: C

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

Southwest Stakes (division 2) Preview: Secret Circle vs. Cyber Secret

Monday’s second division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes has drawn a competitive field of ten and morning line favorite Secret Circle looms the even money target.

Secret Circle horse

Secret Circle is the even money favorite on Monday - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#9 Secret Circle (1-1) has earned strong numbers in each of his four starts. He rattled off three straight sprints to begin his promising career including a game victory in the BC Juvenile Sprint. He did all of the pace dirty work in the one mile G3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Jan 7 and was tagged by highly regarded colt Out of Bounds. Trainer Bob Baffert gives him another route opportunity and he is training well for this. He looms an obvious prominent throughout player but might be best sprinting and won’t offer any value.

#7 Cyber Secret (4-1) looked good in his local sprint bow at Belmont last fall and I made him my value top in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He finished a wide 7th in his ambitious second outing and was purchased privately by Cella/Whiting. He resurfaced in Arkansas this year and had a bad start in his disappointing Jan 15 effort. He rebounded in a big way here Feb 4 and can compete in this spot if he avoids a bounce (returning in 16 days).

#2 Adirondack King (6-1) always runs his race and comes from the same connections (Elliot-Servis) as 2004 Derby-Preakness winner Smarty Jones. He projects a decent tactical journey at a hint of a price.

#1 Z Rockstar (20-1) has fired Trifecta shots in 6 of 7 lifetime starts including a neck defeat at Oaklawn Park Jan 16. He can contend for a minor award at a big number.

#6 Pee H Dee (15-1) owns an ascending numbers pattern and beat today’s rival Z Rockstar by a neck here last time. A minor award is not impossible.

#4 Apprehender (10-1) earned a big number in his romping local sprint debut in the mud. He adds fuel to the fire but is a likely pace casualty.

#3 Scatman (6-1) exits a sharp local sprint win but gets a distance and class check today. I cannot see him putting away the likes of Secret Circle and holding off the late runners.

#10 Big Wednesday (15-1) captured all three synthetic sprints at Presque Isle Downs last year and was 4th in his lone conventional dirt try. He owns running style versatility but drew a tough post and might need the outing.

#8 King Coral (30-1) finished 9th in the Smarty Jones Stakes. The outsider owns low numbers.

#5 Chalybeate Springs (30-1) won a slow local maiden route Jan 14 and followed that up with a last place finish in the G3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. The Wayne Lukas charge is not fast enough to compete here.

The Plays:

$16 to win #7

$3 Exacta Box 2-7 ($6)

.50 cent Trifecta 2-7-9/1-2-6-7-9/1-2-6-7-9 ($18)

Southwest Stakes (division 1) Preview: Reckless Jerry sits trip

Monday’s Grade 3 Southwest Stakes (division 1) has drawn a field of eleven and morning line favorite Longview Drive invades from Southern California for Jerry Hollendorfer.

#5 Longview Drive (5-2) finished 3rd in the low rated G3 Delta Jackpot to end his juvenile campaign and occupied that same spot when last seen in the G3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. The $175k Keeneland sales grad figures to show speed and a few others might join him on the front end. The underlaid contender is worth trying to beat on the win end.

#8 Reckless Jerry (9-2) was hung out to dry from post 12 in the local Smarty Jones Stakes on Jan 16. He raced five wide throughout and missed by a neck to ground saving winner #6 Junebugred (7-2). He can turn the tables on that rival with a better trip.

Junebugred

Junebugred shoots for hat trick on Monday - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Junebugred fired a local bullet since his last and should sit another decent tactical trip under Bravo. A hat trick is within reach.

#2 Unbridled’s Note (10-1) looked good in his winning Churchill sprint bow last October and the show finisher came back to tally. This is an ambitious placement off the bench. Leparoux and Asmussen teamed up to win Saturday’s G3 El Camino Real Derby with Daddy Nose Best.

#9 Ring It Up (20-1) was clearly second best behind Southwest Stakes division two contender Cyber Secret in a local Optional Claiming route Feb 4. He prefers two turns and should be finishing at square odds.

#11 Castaway (5-1) exits a wet fast wire job at Santa Anita. The Baffert trainee meets other quality speed and will take too much action under Bejarano.

#3 Jake Mo (15-1) finished 4th in the Smarty Jones and seems up against it from a pace perspective. He has lost four straight and his trainer is 0-for-11 in the graded ranks.

#4 Majestic Stride (8-1) adds fuel to the pace fire. I respect trainer Jeff Bonde but this is a tough spot to tackle winners for the first time.

#10 Laurie’s Rocket (12-1) dueled and weakened to 5th in the Smarty Jones. Borel hops aboard but he has done the bulk of his damage in sprints.

#7 No Spin (30-1) was 10th in the Smarty Jones. He removes the hood in hopes of a better result but the Tim Ice runner seems to prefer turf or synthetic.

#1 Red Jack (30-1) meets other speed and figures to fade from the rail for Wayne Lukas.

The Plays:

$24 to win #8

$4 to win #9

$3 Exacta 8-9

.50 cent Trifecta 6-8/ALL/9 ($9)