Posts Tagged ‘Basmati’

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

Grading the Early Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps

The unofficial road to the 2012 Kentucky Derby began with the Breeders’ Cup in early November and now that we have multiple graded routes in the books it is time to rate the quality of the preps so far.

2012 Kentucky Derby

BC Juvenile Sprint (11-4-11) – 95 BSF (Secret Circle)

Not sure about the overall strength of the field but winner Secret Circle is arguably the fastest juvenile in the land with 97-97-95 BSF’s in his three winning races to date. He owns three of the top ten BSF’s for juveniles as of 11-29. Grade: B-

Secret Circle had every right to fold after dueling through quick splits of :20.96 and :44.55 but the Baffert trainee gamely held off overseas filly Shumoos to remain undefeated. He has route influences in his pedigree and might try two turns in the G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on 12-17.

G1 BC Juvenile (11-5-11) – 94 BSF (Hansen)

The deepest juvenile prep race of the season with seven Graded/Group winners in the starting gate. Hansen went all the way, becoming the eighth member of the field to make the grade. The number came back solid if unspectacular and the top three were well clear of the rest. Grade: B

Hansen

Is Hansen a legit Ky Derby threat? - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Hansen kept his perfect record intact with a game wire job head victory. He has never been headed in three career starts and it remains to be seen how he will react to serious pace pressure. Mike Maker’s talented colt is wintering in Florida with the Gulfstream 3-year-old preps on his radar screen.

Union Rags tasted defeat for the first time but was probably best after breaking 12th from post 10, racing wide, and wandering in the stretch. He is also spending the winter in Florida.

Creative Cause ended his productive juvenile season with a solid show finish in the BC Juvenile. He will likely resurface at Santa Anita in 2012 with the G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb 19 a possible starting point.

Dullahan was bumped at the start and rallied to finish a respectable 4th. He graduated in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity and might be better on turf/synthetic.

Real Quiet Stakes (11-12-11) – 81 BSF (Liaison)

A bit of quality in this six-pack with a pair of multiple winners including CalCup Juvenile hero Rousing Sermon. Liaison gamely edged the aforementioned CalCup winner but did not earn much of a number. Grade: C-

Liaison has now won two straight and is clearly making nice progress. He has the right connections (Baffert) and a decent pedigree (Indian Charlie-Victory Gallop). The CashCall Futurity might be next.

G3 Delta Jackpot (11-19-11) – 80 BSF (Sabercat)

Pace meltdown with morning line favorite Drill and My Adonis dueling through splits of :22.11, :45.41, and 1:11.60. Top three finishers Sabercat, Basmati, and Longview Drive rallied from 9th, 6th, and 10th while crawling home in slow final time of 1:46.62. Delta Princess winner Now I Know earned a slightly better 81 BSF. Grade: D

Sabercat was making his sixth start of the year and won his third straight route in Delta Jackpot. Improving Asmussen runner breezed an easy 4f in :53 at Fair Grounds on 11-28.

Basmati took six tries to break his maiden and earned a nice chunk of change in place finish at Delta Downs. The busy juvenile might show up next in the CashCall Futurity.

Jerry Hollendorfer’s NoCal invader Longview Drive showed a new dimension rallying for the show. The $175k Keeneland sales grad has earned his best numbers in sprint races.

Drill came back in two weeks after a failed BC Juvenile attempt and flopped once again in Louisiana for Baffert. He has dropped three straight Graded dirt routes and seemingly needs a break. Both wins occurred at Del Mar in synthetic sprints.

G3 Hollywood Prevue (11-24-11) – 83 BSF (So Brilliant)

So Brilliant gamely wired six rivals but all members of the field were eligible for their entry level condition prior to this seven furlong synthetic affair. Grade: D+

So Brilliant was hardly as secret in his winning bow and made the betting public happy again on Thanksgiving Day. Bob Baffert’s $300k purchase is bred to route and has plenty of room to improve. CashCall Futurity is on his radar screen.

Empire Way was visually impressive in his Nov 13 bow but did not earn much of a number in that event and showed nothing in his Stakes debut. He should improve next year in routes but needed to run much faster.

G2 Remsen (11-26-11) – 80 BSF (O’Prado Again)

The pace was crawling (4f – :49.97, 6f – 1:15.05) and they ran the final 3f in :37.02. Tough to get a true gauge on this event with an overall impression of something close to average. Grade: C

O'Prado Again

O'Prado Again wins his second 9f race in Remsen - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

O’Prado Again won his second straight 9f affair in the Remsen. Trainer Dale Romans has had some success in recent Triple Crown events (Paddy O’Prado, First Dude, Shackleford).

Souper Speedy set the aforementioned crawling fractions and had just enough left to hold the place. Not a bad effort considering he was coming off a layoff after graduating in his 7f mud bow at 31-1.

El Padrino is an interesting long term prospect. He graduated by open lengths in his second career start and saved all the ground tracking the pace while showing late interest in the Remsen. Todd Pletcher’s $210k purchase has a nice distance pedigree and plenty of room to develop.

G2 Kentucky Jockey Club (11-26-11) – 85 BSF (Gemologist)

This one could turn out to be a decent prep. The fractions and final time were solid and the top three ran well. One/all could be heard from next year. Grade: C+

Gemologist remained unbeaten with a sharp stalk/pounce tally. Super Saver won this for same connections (Pletcher/WinStar Farm) en route to 2010 Kentucky Derby triumph. Interesting pedigree with Tiznow on top and Mr. Prospector on bottom.

Ever So Lucky set the pace and gamely held the place. Souper Speedy had a similar effort/pattern in the Remsen but Ever So Lucky carved out stronger splits and looks like the better long term prospect for Jonathan Sheppard. Like the speed (Indian Charlie), stamina (Summer Squall) pedigree mix.

Timely Tally has clearly kicked it up a few notches around two turns. He had some traffic issues under Borel and flew late to just miss the place. Gemologist seemingly has his number but the $220k son of Mr. Greeley is coming around and could be a player next year for Ian Wilkes.

Delta Downs Jackpot 2011 Preview: Can Drill Rebound?

The Grade 3, $1 Million Delta Jackpot has the purse power to guarantee the winner a starting spot in the 2012 Kentucky Derby, and headlining the Delta Downs showcase is Grade 1 winner Drill.

Drill

Drill puts blinkers back on in Delta Jackpot - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Bob Baffert’s Drill, a juvenile son of Lawyer Ron, finished a non-threatening 8th as the even money favorite in his synthetic sprint bow at Del Mar. He ran two more times at the seaside oval with a maiden victory and a game tally in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.

He stretched out in Santa Anita’s Grade 1 Norfolk and was clearly second best behind Creative Cause. He was last seen finishing up the track in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (blinkers off) and he may not have cared for the sticky, drying out track.

The $300,000 Keeneland sales grad returned to Southern California after his failed Kentucky journey and he fired a three furlong bullet in :35.40 at Santa Anita Park on Nov 14. He ran his best three races with blinkers on and Baffert reintroduces him to the hood on Saturday. The Delta Downs bullring is tricky to handle and Drill attempts to rebound after running poorly two weeks ago.

Longview Drive and Seven Lively Sins figure to carve out the fractions from the inside with Basmati, My Adonis, and Dougs Buddy chasing. Tiz Moe, Drill, Sabercat, and Jake Mo should be sitting in the next flight with the latter trying to work out a forwardly placed trip from the outside box. Laurie’s Rocket does his best running late but did show improved positional speed with the addition of blinkers at Churchill Downs last time.

My ideal Delta Jackpot contender will break from post 2-7 and sit a decent tactical trip. Drill fits that bill but will not offer value. My Adonis easily won the local prep for this and is a much better morning line price at 4-1. Tiz Moe was clearly second best in the local Jean Lafitte and has plenty of upside with only two races under his belt. His 15-1 price is right as well.

In the end, I am a fan of Drill and would like to see him run well but from a wagering standpoint I will pick My Adonis to win and play him in an exacta box with Tiz Moe.