Friday, February 18, 2011

The San Vicente Stakes

Not a lot of time to post today, but I am curious how the race will unfold for the San Vicente Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita.

Everyone is buzzing about The Factor and has the chance to impress me considering I haven't taken time to watch or read much about this horse.  If The Factor performs well I may have to include him in my next Top 10 list.  As for now, he's on the outside looking in.  Maybe I'm just a little skeptical of the California horses after last weeks losses by Comma to the Top and Tapizar.  The Tapizar showing may be linked to his retreat from the Derby Trail earlier this week after it was discovered he has a knee chip.

The Factor is challenged by several other possible Derby contenders who are fighting for stakes earnings to get into the field.  I'm wondering if Premier Pegasus is going to hold his own with The Factor.  I'm going to sit on the rail and not make a pick for this race since I'm not familiar with the favorites or the field.  Don't be surprised if you hear a lot more about The Factor if he has a dazzling performance Sunday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weekend Race of Interest: Risen Star Stakes

Kentucky Derby prep races are coming fast and furious now as Derby 137 is 79 days away.  This weekends Risen Star Stakes features a slew of horses in line to make the start for the Run for the Roses, but in need of key wins and earnings to climb up the list of leaders.

With Tapizar and Boys At Tosconova off the Derby trail, it seems that several horses now have space to get in.  This Grade II, $300,000 race at the Fair Ground in New Orleans, LA will set apart at least three horses who are able to finish in the money on Saturday.  The talented field is led by several rising three year olds including the 3rd place finisher in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Rogue Romance.

Other horses that will demand attention for this race are: Pants on Fire, Decisive Moment, Mucho Macho Man, Machen, and Santiva.  By listing six horses out of a ten horse field you can see there's a lot of chatter about the competition going into the gates.  I'm just hoping for a quality showing for Rougue Romance who I've placed at number 7 in my top ten list of early Derby contenders.

Post Position Draw:

1. Rogue Romance
2. Liondrive
3. Decisive Moment
4. Pants on Fire
5. Mucho Macho Man
6. Machen
7. Santiva
8. Action Ready
9. Justin Phillip
10. Sorgho

My picks: I'd box, 1-4-6...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thoughts on Boys At Tosconova

Upon learning this past weekend Boys At Tosconova is officially off the Derby trail, I was a left a little empty inside.  I'd watched him solidly beaten as the second place finisher to Uncle Mo in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.  Fully hoping there would be a rematch on the same Churchill Downs track 6 months later at the Kentucky Derby.  That's not to be.  Boys At Tosconova has proven himself as a two year old and belongs on the same track as Uncle Mo, but now we're left to find a suitable challenger to fill a small gap left by ending his Derby campaign.

Injuries are common in Throughbred racing and it's something followers of the sport hate to see.  A rivalry begins to emerge and we attempt to forecast what may happen.  As of now, Boys At Tosconova is sidelined.  Sent to recover from possible injuries not found on x-rays.  His trainer, Rick Dutrow, noticed the horse wasn't "himself".  I'm sure the decision to take Boys off the Derby trail was a difficult one.

So is the case racing fans are left to find a new camp on which to throw support.  Rivalries are great for horse racing.  We thrive on the thrill of a stretch run taking our breath away.  We want the history books to show there's a challenge for the victor.  To be able to claim we saw THAT horse.  For Boys At Tosconova the accention to Derby Day has ended with a whimper, but hopefully after some needed rest we'll see him take to the track and win once more.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Top 10 on the Road to Derby 137

1. Uncle Mo
2. To Honor and Serve
3. Dialed In
4. Brethren
5. Soldat
6. Riveting Reason
7. Rouge Romance
8. Sweet Ducky
9. Comma To The Top
10. Gourmet Dinner

Twists and Turns!

Drama is building towards Kentucky Derby 137!  Two out of three races this weekend were supposed to solidify a rising pair of three year old on the radar of Thoroughbred enthusiasts.  What we're left with is one horse blowing away a less then stellar group in the Sam F. Davis Stakes and two favorites upset and out of the money in the Robert B Lewis Stakes and the El Camino Real Derby.

Personally, I expected Brethren to run a smart race finishing second or third in the Sam Davis.  What unfolded was the showcase of a lively horse with more than enough to make the field of 20 in the Kentucky Derby.  Will the Todd Pletcher horse have what it takes to win at a mile and and a quarter?  Possibly!  It helps Brethren's cause by being a half brother to 2010 Kentucky Derby Champion, Super Saver.  The ties to imotality are there, but it takes more than the family tree for a horse to win the Derby.  The intangibles are the fact that he's in the Pletcher barn and being a WinStar Farm product helps too.  WinStar owned two out of three winners in Triple Crown races last year, Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby and Drosselmeyer at the Belmont.  Stock in Brethren is going up and we'll hear a lot more about him through the next 3 months.  My concerns rest in the overall time of the race, Brethren ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45:07.  That's the slowest in six years and the best finish by a winner of the Sam Davis Stakes in the Kentucky Derby is 2nd by Bluegrass Cat in 2006.

Upsets were the trend in California as favorites Tapizar and Comma To The Top fell flat in their stakes races.  Tapizar, sporting odds of 3-10, broke out of the gate at a blistering pace and led by two to three lengths in the first turn only to be tracked down with a furlong to go, faded and crossed the wire 5th.  I'm not discouraged by Tapizar's performance.  If he can be trained to hold his early speed, bottle it up for the last 1/4 mile, he can compete in a stretch run.  At the head of the pack, Anthony's Cross edged out Riveting Reason for the win.  Riveting Reason shows a lot of promise, but hasn't really come into his own at the moment.  Again, the final time of the race was slow 1:48:63 after opening fractions that were moderate.  The final time was the slowest since 1963!  There may have been issues with the official time, but if 1:48:63 is the correct time, there's no way a horse from this race will finish in the money on Derby Day.

I'm still scratching my head trying to make sense of Comma To Top's 4th place finish in the El Camino Real Derby.  He ran a good race up to the last 1/8, but when it came time to switch to another gear at the top of the stretch he just didn't have it.  I was let down by a 4th place finish for Comma To The Top.  Going into the weekend I felt finishing 2nd ,or at worst 3rd, wouldn't hurt Comma To The Top's overall Derby hopes.  Seeing him in position to finish off the race strong, but fading back leaves me with concerns.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekend Races of Interest

I'll be watching three key races this weekend.  The top finishers from each will have renewed buzz and become properly positioned on the Derby trail as we're 12 weeks away from Kentucky Derby 137.

Robert B. Lewis Stakes:  This Grade II race at Santa Anita, CA is run at a distance of 9 furlongs (which is 1 1/8 mile).  Kentucky Derby contender Tapizar, winner of the Sham Stakes on January 15, 2011 is the clear cut favorite going in.  All indications point to a win for Tapizar and anything less would be a disappointment.  I'm curious to see how Riveting Reason runs against Tapizar.

El Camino Real Derby: A Grade III race at Golden Gate Fields, CA being run at 9 furlongs.  All signs point to Comma to the Top being the overall favoirte here and, just like Tapizar in the Robert B Lewis, anything less than a win would be a let down.  Now, if Comma comes up short there's no real damage to his Derby hopes, but it may add for higher odds when looking for a good horse versus betting value come the first Saturday in May.

Sam F. Davis Stakes: A Grade III race being held at Tampa Bay Downs, FL.  This 8.5 furlong race (1 1/16 mile) doesn't have such a clear cut favorite, but offers a glimpse at several Derby hopefuls.  One of which is Brethren.  A half brother to Kentucky Derby 136 Champion Super Saver, Brethren has a lot of potential.  Others I'm watching with interest in this race: Monzon, Washington's Rules and Beamer.  I wouldn't be shocked if Brethren finishes 2nd or 3rd.

Happy Weekend!