Saturday, January 16, 2010

Derby Trail Stakes Racing Roundup

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has several promising 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail this year and today he sends Conveyance to the starting gate as the 3-5 morning-line favorite in the $100,000 San Rafael Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.

Conveyance will be stretching to a route race and stepping up into stakes competition for the first time but he should be able to handle that with no problem. In his previous two starts, both 6-furlong sprints, Conveyance showed plenty of speed and led from gate-to-wire to win his maiden race by 1 ½ - lengths last October. In November, Conveyance, leading all the way, came back and won an allowance race in a 7-length romp and earned a 101 Brisnet Speed Figure.

Despite being lightly raced, Conveyance has been working out good since last November and looks like the horse to beat.

Of the five horses entered in the San Rafael, Via Verde is the one I am most interested in. Via Verde was sired by Cherokee Run and he is a three-quarter brother to Musket Man who won several prep races on this year’s Derby Trail enroute to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

With the impressive performance of Musket Man and The Pamplemousse, winner of last year’s San Rafael, I wrote in my July 3 blog that I was going to keep track to see if a trend was emerging of Cherokee Run sire line colts stepping up to become good middle-distance stakes winners.

Via Verde is the most promising that I have seen so far and if he lives up to his breeding, he could, perhaps, have an impact on the Triple Crown Trail.

Only time will tell.

Pasco Stakes

Uptowncharlybrown became the buzz horse for many after breaking his maiden in a 6 ½ -furlong sprint at Tampa Bay Downs by an impressive 9-length margin December 26. Uptowncharlybrown heads a field of eight 3-year-olds as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Musket Man won the Pasco last year and New Jersey-based trainer Alan Seewald has high hopes that Uptowncharlybrown will follow in those footpints.

“"He's the main reason we decided to come to Tampa," Seewald said in an Daily Racing Form news story. Uptowncharlybrown "showed us early he was a colt with a lot of talent and potential, and we wanted to have a place to develop his skills where we knew we wouldn't have weather problems and he would have a good surface to train over.”

Uptowncharlybrown is sired by Limehouse who won the 7-furlong Hutcheson Stakes and 8 ½ -furlong Tampa Bay Derby so the 7-furlong Pasco should not be a problem.

Silver Craft (9-2) looks like he could be tough in this race. If you throw out his November 25 attempt to run in a route race at Churchill Downs, Silver Craft has two nice wins coming into this race and one of those was a 6 ¼ -length romp in a 7-furlong sprint. Silver Craft earned a 91 and a 90 Brisnet Speed Figure for those two wins. He’s been working out good at Tampa Bay and he starts from the number three hole for trainer Anthony Reinstedler.

In his last race, Gesu (4-1) shipped in from Calder enroute to a half-length victory in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay. In his previous attempt at 7-furlongs Gesu finished sixth, beaten by 9-lengths, in the Jack Price Juvenile Stakes at Calder.

Leading all the way, Big Looie won his maiden debut over a field of 10 at Hawthorne December 27 and at 5-1 morning line odds he looks like an interesting prospect. His sire, Military, won several races at over 10 furlongs and his damsire, Cryptoclearance, won the Florida Derby enroute to a third-place finish in the Preakness and a second in the Belmont Stakes.

California Derby

As usual, trainer Todd Pletcher has a full stable of promising 3-year-olds on the Derby Trail and he sends Connemara to the starting gate as the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

Connemara is undefeated with a win in a maiden and allowance race and Pletcher is looking to add to that scorecard with a win in the California Derby.

"We want to see continued development," said Pletcher in a Daily Racing Form news story. "We'd like to see him be a little more professional early and get a stalking position."

Ranger Heartley (3-1) has already lost to Connemara an 8 ½ -furlong allowance but he rebounded off of that defeat to win an 8 ½ -furlong race at Hollywood Park in final time of 1:43 2/5 seconds. Ranger Heartley has been working out good and looks to be competive in this spot.

Trainer Doug O’Neill takes European invader Thomas Baines (7-2) off the turf to give him a shot in the California Derby. In his two previous U.S. starts, Thomas Baines earned an 87 and 90 Brisnet Speed Figure and improved off both those races. I like his progression and if he contines to improve, he could be a factor in the exotics.


  1. Hi Calvin, not impressed with Conveyance race today. Claimers ran equal to the colt time in a later race. But the San Fernando mile split was ran in the same time with Papa Clem.

    Mixed Signals

  2. Just finished watching the Passo Stales video.

    The colt Uptowncharlybrown would not change front leads on his own till late. But what was disturbing the most, was the Jockey did not recognize till within the 1/16 pole. He look down at the colt right leg and chirp the reign to get Uptowncharlybrown to change leads.

    Thus, the colt is still learning how to run after two excellent starts from Maiden to Stakes ranks.

    Can improve many lengths on performance, and better handling.

  3. Barry,

    I did not see the maiden claiming race, so I do not know how it unfolded – won on the lead, come from behind. Conveyance had his own way on the lead until challenged by Cardiff Giant in the last quarter mile. The final time of 1:36.45 is in the general ballpark I like to see in a mile race – I prefer 1:35. Smart Bid had his own way, too, on the lead posting easy fractions in the San Fernando but was outkicked by Papa Clem in the stretch.

    I’m anxious to see how Conveyance performs stretching out farther. His sire, Indian Charlie, won the Santa Anita Derby and finished third in the Kentucky Derby. His damsire, Horse of The Year and Champion 3-year-old colt Holy Bull, was a versatile champion winning the 7-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G2) and 10-furlong Travers Stakes (G1).

    Only time will tell well Conveyance performs on the Derby Trail.

    I agree with your assessment about Uptowncharlybrown. He still is very green and with proper handling might develop into a nice thoroughbred.

    A blogging friend of mine, vicstu, is a regular poster on the Daily Racing Form FormBlog hosted by Dan Illman. Vicstu is a big fan of Uptowncharlybrown and he touted Musket Man last year. Here is a recent post by vicstu about Uptowncharlybrown:

    “One other piece of information on this horse is that he is already around 17 hands tall, and is just now getting his legs under him. Indeed, Charly had a big growth spell midway through his 2 year old season so they had to break his training and turn him back out just to be safe. So, he is even greener than most he is running against. And lastly, I have a couple of eyes and ears on the ground at TBD, and they basically told me this horse is a stone cold freak who gets stronger the further he goes and who can gallop all day...notwithstanding his pedigree. Say what you will, but these were the same two trackhand-railbird that last year predicted Musket Man would be competitive up to 9 and even 10 furlongs, and would easily outrun his pedigree.”

  4. Hi Calvin Conveyance was sold to the Sheik older brother prior to the San Rafael. Baffert will remain the trainer. Look for the colt to depart town and head to Oaklawn.

  5. Barry,

    Thanks for the update. I think Oaklawn will be a good route to take with Conveyance.

  6. Need a list of early triple crown nomination.

    Time to track the entries.