Week of January 23, 2012
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
Welcome back, the year has slowly started to get underway and we’re ready to crawl out from under our rock and pay closer attention to racing!
Even though Larry Jones operates out of Oaklawn Park, he certainly made himself at home at Fair Grounds on Saturday. Jones and owner Brereton C. Jones won both sophomore stakes with Believe You Can in the Silverbulletday Stakes (chart) and Mr. Bowling in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes (chart). In a post-race interview Jones noted the two workmates are likely to stay at Fair Grounds with Believe You Can pointing to the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes and Mr. Bowling pointing towards the Grade 2 Risen Star, both on Feb 25. Z Dager and Shared Property, second and third place finishers in the Lecomte, are also pointing to the Risen Star.
There were several other stakes races at Fair Grounds on Saturday and the Lecomte was the only one won by sitting off the pace. In fact, six of the thirteen races carded at Fair Grounds on Saturday were won on the lead! Thiskyhasnolimit had no trouble coming off a six month layoff to wire the Louisiana Handicap (chart) while Inspired shipped in from Gulfstream to upset the Pan Zareta (chart) paying $32.80 to win. New York-bred Mr. Vegas made it three in a row at Fair Grounds with a win in the Grade 3 Colonel E.R. Bradley (chart).
Speed also held at Santa Anita on Saturday with five of nine races going to front-runners. The 2011 Eclipse Spring champ Amazombie scratched out of the Grade 2 Palos Verdes (chart) due to wet conditions leaving Frumious to make short work of the remaining rivals, winning by 5 3/4 lengths… you guessed it, on the lead! Also on the lead all the way was Lady of Fifty in the California Oaks (chart) at Golden Gate Fields, although she was the only winning front runner at the track. Amazombie, who will be making one more start before he retires, is now pointed to the San Carlos on Feb 25.
Team Valor stablemates ran one-two in the grassy Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream Park (chart) where winner Howe Great got the lead and early and held off favorite Lucky Chappy. Unlike Santa Anita and Fair Grounds, Howe Great was the only wire job at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Given that trainer Graham Motion and Team Valor won last year’s Kentucky Derby with a horse that was widely considered a turf horse, it seems likely that both Howe Great and Lucky Chappy will be scrutinized more closely than would have otherwise. No solid plans have been announced but Motion said that he might consider taking them to Dubai for the March 31 UAE Derby. Animal Kingdom is targeting the Dubai World Cup on the same day. Not to worry, you’re sure to hear more about these two!
Sunday was all about the off the pace win. Dayatthespa got her 3-year-old campaign underway with a win in the Sweetest Chant Stakes (chart) at Gulfstream Park. Sitting well off the fast pace, she came wide and then kicked home with an impressive turn of foot. No word on what’s next for the Chad Brown trainee. At Santa Anita Park Midnight Transfer built on his impressive maiden win with another solid win when he sat off the pace and got up in time in the San Pedro Stakes (chart). The La Canada Stakes (chart) capped off a great weekend for Brereton C. Jones as he bred winner Include Me Out, who pulled off a minor upset at 8-1.
Next week things start to ramp up a bit more with the Sunshine Millions on Saturday expecting to draw undefeated Awesome Feather, Mucho Macho Man, Pomeroy’s Pistol, Musical Romance and a host of others. Juvenile Eclipse champion Hansen is also expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.
In honor of the much anticipated HBO series Luck, which debuts Sunday Jan 29, Gulfstream and Santa Anita Park will feature a special Luck $1 minimum Pick 6 for the Sunshine Millions! The minimum wager for a Pick 6 is usually $2, making it cost prohibitive for many players. If you’ve always wanted to try the Pick 6, now might be a great time. Check out this excellent introduction to exotic betting by Steven Crist in our Letter to a New Horseplayer series… he wrote the book on the Exotic Betting, literally!
If you haven’t ready, sign-up for our Derby Prep Alert where each Friday afternoon we’ll email you a preview of the weekend’s Kentucky Derby and Oaks preps that includes past performances from our new partner, Brisnet.com!
And finally, from the “insanely cute” department, 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra gave birth to a colt by 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin on Sunday afternoon. Stonestreet Farm tweeted this adorable picture of mother and foal. No doubt there will more updates, as well as pictures when 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta gives birth to her foal by Bernardini!
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!