Week of March 14, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
In a much anticipated weekend, we saw returns, romps and upsets… but what did we learn? On the Derby front all eyes were on the current favorite Uncle Mo, who started in the ungraded Timely Writer Stakes, one-turn, a one mile race written for him at Gulfstream Park. As expected, he won very easily and got the final quarter in a solid 22.87 with no urging. Judging from Twitter, fans of Mo felt it was a solid prep while skeptics wondered if he got enough out of the race given that he’s only racing twice before the 2011 Kentucky Derby. The next stop for undefeated 2-year-old champion is in the April 9 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
The other two Derby preps shed a bit more light on several contenders. In California. the San Felipe Stakes was the coming out party for Premier Pegasus, the son 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. Last out he made his seasonal debut in the San Vicente Stakes (replay) where he was a non-threatening third behind The Factor and Sway Away. Removing the blinkers proved to be a savvy move by trainer Myung Kwon Cho “We took the blinkers off because we were thinking it would make him relax a little bit more. We didnâ€™t want him to sprint out with all these speed horses.” The Cho’s reportedly celebrated by spending “most of the night watching replays of the race.” Jockey Alonso Quinonez also had much to celebrate as he broke a losing streak of 69 straight races!
Jaycito was also in the San Felipe Stakes, making his seasonal debut and first time start for trainer Bob Baffert, and also without blinkers for the first time. Given that his last start was in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (replay), he closed well from about 18 lengths off the pace to get second. A gaggle of maidens garnering plenty of buzz finished off the board.
At Tampa Downs, Watch Me Go (43-1) pulled an upset to the tune of $89.40. Crimson Knight at 86-1 came in second making the $2 exacta $2194.20. Heavily favored Brethren came in an uninspiring third. Jockey Ramon Dominguez speculated that taking him out of his usual running style may have cost him the race. Trainer Todd Pletcher was quoted as being “disappointed” but no word yet on what’s next for the half-brother of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver. Watch Me Go is now pointing towards the Derby with his next likely stop to be either the April 16 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park or Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland.
In addition to Uncle Mo and Jaycito, two others who made their last start in the Breeders’ Cup made their seasonal debuts. Joyful Victory romped in the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park (replay) for out-of-retirement trainer Larry Jones. She finished a whopping 8 3/4 lengths ahead of Martha Washington winner Holy Heavens and is likely to make her next start in the April 10 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park on her way to the Kentucky Oaks. Pluck, winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (replay), made his seasonal debut in an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs. He’ll make his next start in the Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland on April 8 en route to the Group 1 French Two Thousand Guineas.
Tough as nails Tackleberry got the best of Soaring Empire again in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Tackleberry, who runs drug-free, might take his south Florida tour-de-force on the road, making his next stop in the April 16 Charles Town Classic. Miss Match pulled an upset in Santa Margarita history this weekend, clipping favorite Switch on the wire to pay $92.40. Pacesetter Always a Princess, who upset Blind Luck last out in the La Canada (replay), sustained a career-ending injury in the stretch and was scheduled for surgery on Sunday. Her prognosis appears to be good, best of luck to her for a speedy recovery.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik won five races at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Saturday and is currently the first female jockey to be leading rider at the track. Only two other riders have won five on a card at Fair Grounds. The meet closes on March 27, best of luck to her to win the title!
This week at the site we’re excited to roll out a new feature, horse profiles! One of the many ways fans and players can connect with racing is by learning its history and our profiles will be aimed at helping you learn more about the horses that have set the current benchmarks. Also, many of the horses that we’ll profile are currently breeding, and knowing more about a sire or dam can help your handicapping. Who’s our inaugural profile? 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri! Her daughter Arienza made an impressive debut at Oaklawn last weekend (replay) and we’re excited to bring you an in-depth look at this champion. She currently resides in Japan, and all reports have indicated that she, and the other American horses in the breeding industry there, are uninjured. For more context on where the Japanese breeding farms are in relation to the devastation, Japanese blogger Kate Hunter has some infographics and information.
And finally, if you’ve been missing Zenyatta (who is now in foal), meet Black Caviar. This Australian sprinting sensation brought her record to 10-10 this weekend in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington Racecourse. Australian racing buff Valerie Grash introduces you to exciting undefeated mare from down under.
Check the final odds and will pays of Pool 2 for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Future Wagers.
Don’t forget to join our Road to the Roses League!
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Activation Code: 2066491149
Post Race Interviews for San Felipe
Connections of Premier Pegasus discuss the race.
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!