Week of February 6, 2012
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
The Triple Crown nominations are out and so far the 2012 Kentucky Derby trail is wide open. Two out of the three weekend Kentucky Derby preps were upsets and the third didn’t really tell us much about the winner. On the other hand, not having a big buzz horse early is refreshing change from last year!
Godophin’s Alpha looked good easily winning the Grade 3 Withers Stakes (chart) at Aqueduct on Saturday and is either heading to the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes on March 3 or the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 7. Second place Speightscity is likely for the Gotham. The Grade 3 Sam F. Davis (chart) was a maiden-breaking affair with Battle Hardened putting in a professional effort to make his first win a graded one. The Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 10 is the most likely next stop for the winner.
The Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis (chart) at Santa Anita was the biggest upset so far with I’ll Have Another coming off a six week break to pay $88.60. Favored Liaison seemed to be dropping out of it by the time he clipped heels with Groovin’ Solo, dismounting Rafael Bejarano. Groovin’ Solo was disqualified and unplaced, moving Rousing Sermon into the third spot. Royal Delta’s half-brother Empire Way got a beautiful inside trip, away from the traffic jam and got up for second. The winner may skip the Grade 2 San Felipe on March 10 and go directly the the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
Ultimate Eagle pulled a mild upset of his own in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes (chart) at Santa Anita. Making his first start on the dirt, he grabbed the lead early and pulled away in the stretch. He’s won five of his last six starts including the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby and the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby. His only loss since breaking his maiden was to Mr. Commons, who won the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes (chart) at a mile on the turf on the same card.
Grade 1 Diana Stakes winner Zagora got her 5-year-old campaign underway with a win in the Grade 3 Endeavor Stakes (chart) at Tampa Bay Downs. Trainer Chad Brown said his focus in on her summer campaign but that she might make her next start in the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes on March 10.
Game on Dude got amounted to a paid workout in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes (chart). Sitting off the pace he took over relatively early and pulled away for an easy win. His first target of the year will be a repeat in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 3. Newly gelded Setsuko will also point to the Big ‘Cap after a confidence building allowance win (chart) on Saturday.
397 were nominated for the 2012 Triple Crown, grab a FREE Brisnet past performance that includes all 397 nominees! Next weekend also kicks off the first of three Kentucky Derby Future wagers. In the meantime, check out our primer on Future wagers!
We’ll also publish a post on the benefits of using a virtual stable notification service this week. And, if you missed it last week, see what’s in store for the month of February in The Month Ahead.
Keep with all the commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!