Posts Tagged ‘Ramon Dominguez’

Wood Memorial 2012 Recap: Gemologist Edges Alpha

Gemologist and Alpha punched their Kentucky Derby 2012 tickets after running 1-2 in an exciting edition of the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on Saturday.

G1 Wood Memorial (4-7-12): 98 BSF (Gemologist)

Gemologist Alpha Kentucky Derby 2012

Gemologist is undefeated heading into Ky Derby - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

The Lumber Guy was the headstrong early leader through splits of :23.04, :47.57, and 1:22.54. My Adonis tracked in 2nd, followed by Gemologist on the outside and Alpha along the rail.

The Lumber Guy was getting pressure from My Adonis and Gemologist with three furlongs to go. Gemologist put away his two pace foes but had to deal with a fresh challenge from Alpha. The stage was set for a thrilling finish and Gemologist stuck his neck out on the line with Alpha three clear of rallying show finisher Teeth of the Dog.

Tiger Walk finished 4th and was followed by The Lumber Guy, Street Life, My Adonis, and Casual Trick (more breathing problems).

Gemologist stopped the clock in 1:50.96 and paid $4.40 to win under Javier Castellano. Todd Pletcher’s undefeated colt will return to Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida to prepare for the Kentucky Derby.

Gemologist fans should be pleased. He showed he could stalk and pounce and turned back talented colt Alpha in a determined effort. He is 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs and could end up the Derby favorite, depending on what happens with Hansen in the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 14.

Alpha did everything but win under Ramon Dominguez. He was on good gate behavior once again and proved he could take dirt in the face after racing along the rail. The McLaughlin/Godolphin colt finished up nicely and his numbers are on the rise.

This was a solid Derby prep from start to finish.

Wood Memorial Grade: A- (91 out of 100)

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Hansen’s Gotham Triumph

Juvenile champ Hansen is back in the swing of things on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 after taking a bite out of the Big Apple in Saturday’s Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.

Hansen Kentucky Derby contender

Hansen gets back on the beam in Gotham - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

G3 Gotham Stakes (3-3-12): 95 BSF (Hansen)

Hansen did everything right in the Gotham Stakes and Ramon Dominguez gave him a great ride. He relaxed beautifully from an outer post and was much the best over My Adonis, who was well clear of rallying show finisher Finnegans Wake. 4th place finisher Tiger Walk broke from post 13 and just missed rounding out the trifecta.

I have never been a huge Hansen fan in regards to ten furlong success on the first Saturday in May but he did was he was supposed to do at the Big A on March 3. He removed the hood, tracked the pace, and easily toppled a modest group. That has been a recurring theme on the Derby trail so far. Alpha, El Padrino, Hansen, and Union Rags have all captured graded races against suspect company. El Padrino has been running the fastest races and Union Rags wins the visually impressive reward. Alpha and Hansen are chugging right along and it will be interesting to see what happens when the aforementioned sophomore leaders face better company at nine furlongs and beyond.

Gotham Stakes Grade: B

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-

Count Fleet Stakes 2012 Preview: Time for Alpha to Shine

The $150,000 Count Fleet Stakes at a mile and seventy yards begins the Kentucky Derby 2012 journey for the newly turned 3-year-olds based in New York and it is put up or shut up time for Alpha.

The promising son of flashy stallion Bernardini, out of Nijinsky II mare Munnaya, began his career with an eye catching seven panel graduation run at Saratoga last September. Alpha chased talented colt Union Rags in the G1 Champagne in his second career start before coming apart at the gate in a disappointing G1 BC Juvenile showing.

Alpha shipped to Florida during the month of December before firing a four furlong bullet in his Big Apple return Jan 3. The highly regarded Godolphin colorbearer adds lasix and attracts top notch jock Ramon Dominguez. He was my top ranked juvenile following his debut maiden win and can start living up to his vast potential with a big effort at Aqueduct on Saturday. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee is the strong 4-5 morning line favorite.

Count Fleet 2012 field with morning line odds

Last year’s Kentucky Derby winning trainer Graham Motion has well bred colt Stephanoatsee ready to rumble at the Big A on Jan 7. Shackleford’s baby brother rallied from far back to land the place in his Laurel bow before earning his diploma in Maryland last October. He got no pace help in 7th place G2 Remsen effort and could put his best foot forward at 6-1 odds on Saturday.

Il Villano has rattled off three straight sprints and will take them as far as he can from the rail. He figures to face stern pace pressure from Todd Pletcher trainee and fellow sprint/route runner How Do I Win.

Shkspeare Shaliyah won a graded turf route as a juvenile but is an unknown commodity on conventional dirt. He can always go back to the sod if this dirt experiment goes awry.

Speightscity is a 2-time route winner exiting a sharp stalk and pounce inner track tally. He was trounced in both graded outings and might be up against it from a class standpoint.The son of Speightstown owns plenty of two turn experience, should sit a decent tactical trip, and could grab a piece of this.

Whistleblower earned a decent number in his local inner dirt sprint maiden victory Dec 3. He gets the acid test in his first route try against winners.

The Plays:

$20 Exacta Alpha over Stephanoatsee
$5 Trifecta Key Alpha over Stephanoatsee, Speightscity ($10)

 

 

Belmont Stakes 2011 Profile: Mucho Macho Man

Mucho Macho Man appeared to be sitting on ready for the Preakness but a less than ideal start, wide journey, and another shoe episode derailed his chances. Can he rebound in the 2011 Belmont Stakes?

Mucho Macho Man

Mucho Macho Man tries to rebound at Big Sandy - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Kathy Ritvo’s immature son of Macho Uno has been a trifecta player in 8 of 10 lifetime starts and he still won’t officially turn three until after the Belmont Stakes.

Mucho Macho Man has plenty of graded experience (7 starts) with one win and four placings, including a show finish in the Kentucky Derby.

He gets a rider switch to Ramon Dominguez and has been outfitted with a new pair of shoes. He has more speed than he showed in Kentucky and Baltimore and uncorked a five furlong Belmont Park bullet in :59.57 on June 5.

Mucho Macho Man has the tactical speed and raw ability to compete in the Test of Champions. His long distance pedigree is less than stellar but he rates contender status in a wide open renewal of the Belmont Stakes.