Archive for February, 2012

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)

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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)

San Vicente Stakes 2012 Preview: Creative Cause Looms Large

G1 Norfolk hero Creative Cause, last seen landing the show in the G1 BC Juvenile, begins his road to Kentucky Derby 2012 in Sunday’s G2 San Vicente at Santa Anita Park.

Creative Cause

Creative Cause is the 3-5 San Vicente favorite - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

#2 Creative Cause (3-5) ran well in all five juvenile starts and makes his much anticipated return in this extended sprint. He captured the G1 Norfolk at Santa Anita Park last fall under today’s pilot Joel Rosario. The son of Giant’s Causeway is sitting pretty on the Derby graded earnings list and he has bigger fish to fry but seemingly does not meet much and figures to fire a big shot at miniscule odds.

#5 American Act (4-1) is an intriguing contender for Jack Carava. He beat impressive next out winner Bodemeister in a local sprint Jan 16 and might get brave if able to shake loose early under Martin Pedroza.

#1 Let’s Get Crackin (6-1) has been part of the Trifecta in all seven conventional dirt outings and was last seen landing the show in the local San Pedro Stakes. The obvious exotics threat projects a ground saving tactical trip (blinkers off).

#4 Smoking G (8-1) looked good in hillside maiden win Jan 28. The pace player sports a bullet for this and can contend for a placing if he handles conventional dirt.

#3 Drill (9-2) traded decisions with Creative Cause in the G1 Del Mar Futurity and G1 Norfolk but it has been all downhill since. He has flopped in his last four stakes outings and needs a sudden reversal of fortunes to compete here.

#6 Captain Obvious (15-1) showed ability on turf/synthetic in Ireland and finished 4th after a slow beginning when last seen in the Real Quiet Stakes. He dons the hood and attracts longshot jock Gutierrez but is not bred for dirt.

The Plays:

$10 to win #5

$16 Exacta 2-1

$8 Exacta 2-5

$2 Exacta 5-2

$1 Trifecta 4-5/2/1-4-5 ($4)

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

 

 

Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders: Alpha Moves Forward in Withers

A trio of Kentucky Derby 2012 graded route preps were run across the nation last weekend and G3 Withers hero Alpha emerged as a potential threat on the first Saturday in May.

Alpha (90 BSF) owns an ascending numbers pattern and has now won back-to-back stakes races at Aqueduct. He is returning to Florida to train for the Wood Memorial in April.

I'll Have Another horse

I'll Have Another will wait for the Santa Anita Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I’ll Have Another (96) upset the applecart in a strange renewal of the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Feb 4. Doug O’Neill’s returnee tracked the pace wide and cruised home.

Post time favorite Liaison clipped heels and fell but was going nowhere fast. He just joined my top ten last time and is dropped in the blink of an eye. He can rejoin the chase with an improved effort next time.

Sky Kingdom flopped in the Robert Lewis and drops off the Exciting Prospects list.

Battle Hardened (81 BSF) won a slow renewal of the G3 Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay and needs to run much faster to be serious considered as a Derby contender.

Dullahan is battling a cough and that is why he has been absent from the worktab since Jan 14. Dale Romans still hopes to make the grassy Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park on March 11.

Click on the names of each horse below to view their HorseRacingNation.com profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s Top Ten Kentucky Derby 2012 Contenders

1. Union Rags (Dixie Union) – G1 Champagne hero failed to run a straight course in unlucky BC Juvenile place finish. He breezed a 4f bullet in :48.67 (1/27) at Palm Meadows on Feb 6 and is gearing up for the Feb 26 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Alpha horse

Alpha goes next in the Wood Memorial - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

2. Alpha (Bernardini) – Went back-to-back at the Big A in Count Fleet (85 BSF) and Withers (90 BSF) and was on good behavior in the gate Feb 4. His is back in Florida and will return for Aqueduct’s G1 Wood Memorial on April 7.

3. El Padrino (Pulpit) – Todd Pletcher’s promising colt returned with a vengeance in wet track Optional Claiming win (100 BSF) at Gulfstream on Jan 29. He could resurface in G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb 25.

4. Gemologist (Tiznow) – Sharp G2 Ky Jockey Club (85 BSF) victory for WinStar Farm/Todd Pletcher. Undefeated colt owns fine early-pressing speed and plenty of upside. He is back on the worktab, breezing an easy 3f in :39.88 (10/10) at Palm Meadows on Feb 5.

5. Creative Cause (Giant’s Causeway) – G1 Norfolk hero finished a respectable 3rd in BC Juvenile. He worked 6f in 1:13.80 (6/17) at Hollywood Park on Feb 4 and could return in Santa Anita’s G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb 19.

6. Out of Bounds (Discreet Cat) – Handled two turns just fine in G3 Sham Stakes (99 BSF). The G2 San Felipe at SA on March 10 is next. Breezed 5f in 1:03 (17/20) at Hollywood Park on Feb 6.

7. Take Charge Indy (A. P. Indy) – BC Juvenile 5th place finisher was clearly second best to El Padrino at Gulfstream on Jan 29. He owns a strong route pedigree and should continue to improve this year.

8. Secret Circle (Eddington) – Bob Baffert’s fleet colt finished a solid 2nd in the G3 Sham. Not sure how much farther he wants to go but he deserves another route shot. Went 7f in 1:24.40 (2/3) at Santa Anita on Feb 6.

9. Algorithms (Bernardini) – A trio of sharp one-turn wins to begin career for Pletcher including G3 Holy Bull tally on Jan 29. We will learn more about his Derby prospects when he travels a route of ground.

10. Hansen (Tapit) – BC Juvenile hero/juvenile champ set the pace and held the place in Holy Bull return. He needs to relax on the lead if he expects to make a dent if future Derby graded route preps.

Exciting Prospects

Currency Swap (High Cotton) – G1 Hopeful moves off the injured reserve list. He has recovered from ankle surgery and breezed 4f in :51 (39/41) at Gulfstream Park on Feb 4.

Cyber Secret (Broken Vow) – Now under the care of Whiting/Cella at Oaklawn Park and exits a highly rated optional claiming route win (96 BSF) in Arkansas. The G3 Southwest on Feb 20 is next.

Discreet Dancer horse

Discreet Dancer spiked a temperature on Feb 6 - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Discreet Dancer (Discreet Cat) – A pair of strong one turn wins at Gulfstream to kick off his promising career. Earned a 96 BSF at 8f on Jan 7. Spiked a fever and missed a scheduled breeze on Feb 6.

Ever So Lucky (Indian Charlie) – Hardly a secret in good looking Churchill sprint bow and set the pace and held the place in G2 Ky Jockey Club Stakes. Breezed 5f in 1:01.75 (4/8) at Gulfstream on Feb 6. He is entered in Saturday’s G2 Hutcheson.

Fed Biz (Giant’s Causeway) – Update: The promising Bob Baffert trainee just captured a flat mile allowance event at Santa Anita on Feb 9 and should be headed to the stakes ranks in the near future.

Midnight Transfer (Hard Spun) – Made it back-to-back sprint wins at Santa Anita in San Pedro. He worked 4f in :49.60 (37/47) at Santa Anita and might try two turns in the G2 San Felipe.

Souper Speedy (Indian Charlie) – Set the pace and held the place in G2 Remsen. Debuted a 7f winner in the mud prior to that and is a ½ to Brilliant Speed. Breezed 4f in :52.22 (36/38) at Palm Meadows on Feb 3.

Injured Reserve

B Shanny (Street Cry) – Ran twice in NY last summer including good looking maiden win over El Padrino at Saratoga Aug 20. Bone chip has him on the sidelines.

Fire On Ice (Unbridled’s Song) – Suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg. He is expected to return later this year.

O’Prado Again (El Prado) – G2 Remsen hero suffered a condylar fracture of his right front leg on Jan 9 and is off the Triple Crown trail. He is expected to return later this year.

Stephanoatsee (A.P. Indy) – Injured pastern bone has knocked the Graham Motion trainee off the Derby trail. He will go under the knife on Jan 25 and is expected to miss two months.

Timely Tally (Mr. Greeley) – From Ian Wilkes in a recent DRF article – “Timely Tally, on the other hand, will be done for a while. He has a tendon issue. It’s not career-threatening, but I’m trying to work out now how much time I’ll have to give him.”

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Robert Lewis, Sam Davis

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 made stops in Florida and Southern California on Feb 4 and the G3 Sam Davis and G2 Robert Lewis Stakes both produced surprising results.

G3 Sam F. Davis (2-4-12): 81 BSF (Battle Hardened)

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

Saturday’s Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs did not look strong on paper and eventual winner Battle Hardened was a maiden coming in and got the job done in slow time.  He is out of strong route sire Giant’s Causeway and trainer Eddie Kenneally is back on the Triple Crown trail after catching Derby fever with Santiva in 2011.

Three noses were on the wire for runner-up honors with Prospective edging out Reveron and Ravelo’s Boy. Prospective won the G3 Grey at Woodbine as a juvenile and Reveron was last seen capturing the Gulfstream Park Derby.

State of Play set the pace and faded to 7th for Team Valor and Graham Motion. Look for him to return to the sod in the near future.

Sam Davis Stakes Grade: D

I'll Have Another

I'll Have Another goes next in SA Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I’ll Have Another made the most of his first start in five months at Santa Anita on Saturday, posting a surprising $88.60 upset in a strange renewal of the Lewis.

G2 Robert Lewis Stakes (2-4-12): 96 BSF (I’ll Have Another)

Sprinter Isn’t He Clever set the pace with I’ll Have Another tracking him intently. The early leader faded after six panels and the eventual winner inherited the lead and was never seriously threatened in a relatively easy 2-3/4 length tally.

Liaison was the solid favorite for Bob Baffert but was never traveling comfortably and fell in the stretch after clipping heels with Groovin’ Solo, who crossed the line in 3rd but was place last via disqualification.

Royal Delta’s brother Empire Way was up to finish a clear 2nd and Rousing Sermon was elevated to 3rd.

It was double disappointment for Baffert as Sky Kingdom failed to get involved. Chips All In failed to lift a hoof.

The number from the Lewis came back solid enough but the race was dominated by longshots and did not look strong from a visual standpoint. I’ll Have Another is expected to go next in the G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.

Robert Lewis Stakes Grade: C

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Alpha’s Withers

The first New York graded route on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 was run at Aqueduct on Saturday and overwhelming favorite Alpha did not disappoint in a facile G3 Withers tally.

G3 Withers (2-4-12): 90 BSF (Alpha)

Alpha was my original number one Derby contender when I posted my first blog about the current sophomore class last September and he is on the upswing for Godolphin and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Alpha horse

Alpha is on the upswing for Godolphin - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Alpha began his career with a facile extended sprint win at Saratoga last summer before rallying for the place behind Union Rags in the G1 Champagne. He lost his top ranking on my list after coming apart at the gate and finishing up the track in the G1 BC Juvenile but he always remained in my top ten.

I gave the Count Fleet hero a C+ grade for his win on Jan 7 and thought he was more professional in the Withers. He behaved in the gate, sat a wide stalking trip from the outside post, and was hand urged while clearly best under Ramon Dominguez on Feb 4.

Alpha has all of the tools to make a splash on the first Saturday in May. He is bred top and bottom (Bernardini-Nijinsky II) to improve as distances increase and his sharp conditioner has Kentucky Derby experience. Godolphin wants to win the Derby and they are going about it the right way this time after buying young talent and unsuccessfully shipping to/from Dubai in the past.

The promising son of Bernardini is making nice progress on the Beyer scale, going from an 85 in the Count Fleet to a 90 in the Withers. I love his tactical speed and top notch jockey Ramon Dominguez rides him well. He needs to run faster to be considered a serious Derby player but he is only getting warmed up at a mile and a sixteenth and is clearly moving in the right direction.

There was not much depth in the Withers. Outsider Speightscity completed the exacta at 44-1.Rallying show finisher Tiger Walk has potential for Sagamore Farm. He was making his first start of the year and handles turf/dirt.

Withers Stakes Grade: B-