Posts Tagged ‘Nijinsky II’

Belmont Stakes 2012 Bloodlines: Union Rags

Which horse has the best pedigree to handle twelve furlongs in the final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 9 at Belmont Park? My Belmont Stakes alphabetical list continues with Union Rags.

Belmont stakes 2012 logo

Union Rags’s late sire Dixie Union (by Dixieland Band) won the G1 Haskell in 2000, defeating Captain Steve and Milwaukee Brew. He also captured the G1 Malibu in his final career start and sired 39 stakes winners from his first eight crops including Gone Astray and Grasshopper. Dixie Union’s offspring are usually effective up to a mile and an eighth.

Dixie Union’s sire was Dixieland Band (by Northern Dancer), a Maryland-bred horse I remember when I first started following racing in the early 1980’s. Dixieland Band won the G2 Pennsylvania Derby and G2 Mass ‘Cap. He also competed in the 1983 Belmont Stakes and finished 14th.

Read the rest of this post at HorseRacingNation.com.

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-