Saturday, March 5, 2011

Derby Trail Stakes Racing Roundup: Gotham, John Battaglia Memorial Stakes

Trainer Todd Pletcher sends Stay Thirsty to the starting gate today as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the $250,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct.

Stay Thirsty is a young colt I was interested in early on as a 2-year-old but he lost a little bit of luster with his fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). A good run in the Gotham could put him back in my favor and top ten list because I really do like his pedigree.

Stay Thirsty almost has what I refer to as a “V” pattern pedigree and that is when the sires on the sire line and tail-female line are Classic Champion Thoroughbreds. Bernardini, A. P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Roberto, Arts And Letters and Cavan are all Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.

Storm Bird, the damsire of Stay Thirsty, is a United Kingdom and Ireland Champion 2-year-old colt and the sire of Storm Cat and Summer Squall. Storm Bird is also the damsire of Thunder Gulch and Commentator.

Stay Thirsty has not raced in over three months but a sharp bullet work out February 27 could have him on track to score his fist stakes win.

Toby’s Corner (5-2) has never been out of the money in four starts and he comes into the Gotham with three straight wins. In his last race, Toby’s Corner graduated in stakes competition with a 2-length win on a muddy track in the Whirlaway Stakes.

Toby’s Corner earned a 103 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort, the highest figure of all the other nine horses entered in the Gotham, and I look for him to be competitive.

Preachintothedevil (6-1) finished third in the Whirlaway and I look for him to be competitive in the Gotham. Of all the horses entered in the Gotham, Preachintothedevil has the most stakes racing experience and he’s never been out of the money in four starts.

A long shot I like is Starship Caesar (15-1) who ships in from Gulfstream Park. His speed figures have improved with each race and he’s never been out of the money in his three previous starts.

Despite being bumped in the backstretch of his last race, Starship Caesar managed to get up in time for a one-half length win. Since that race, Starship Caesar fired a bullet work out at Calder Racecourse and he may be ready to run a good race.

If he looks good in the post parade, Starship Caesar may figure into my wagers.

John Battaglia Memorial Stakes

Positive Response is the lukewarm 5-2 morning line favorite of the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park but I would not be surprised to see his odds drop lower.

Trainer William Morey ships Positive Response from Golden Gate Fields where he has been dominant. I liked Positive Response in the California Derby and El Camino Real Derby (G3) and I like him in this race too.

Positive Response finished third in the 9-furlong El Camino Real Derby (G3) but Morey drops him back to 8 ½ - furlongs which should be more to his liking.

Positive Repsonse is a descendant of the Danzig line of the Northern Dancer sire line and since 1990 the Northern Dancer sire line has produced six John Battaglia Memorial winners. The Danzig line produced two of those winners.

Pomeroy, the sire of Positive Response, also sired the speedy Hutcheson Stakes (G2) winner Flashpoint and Frank Mitchell at “bloodstock in the bluegrass” has an excellent blog about the success of Danzig sire line colts on this year’s Kentucky Derby trail.

Blue Laser has not raced in over three months and makes his 3-year-old debut as the 5-1 morning line third-choice.

Blue Laser was one of my picks in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3) at Delta Downs last November but was pulled up when he encountered traffic problems on the far turn and carried out to the fence by a rider-less horse.

Prior to that race, Blue Laser finished third in his maiden debut and was victorious in two races which included a win in the Grey Stakes (G3) at Woodbine.

Blue Laser is a descendant of the Storm Cat line of Northern Dancer and since 1990 that line has produced three John Battaglia Memorial winners.

His sire, Bluegrass Cat, won the Remsen Stakes (G2) and Nashua Stakes (G3) as a 2-year-old and, as a 3-year-old, finished second in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1). Blue Laser’s damsire is the 1989 Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval.

Two long shots I like are Night Party (15-1) and Admiral Perry (5-1)

Night Party has never run in a stakes race but he looked impressive breaking his maiden January 22 at Turfway Park. Starting from post four in the 10-horse field, Night Party got good position going into the first turn, tracked the leader Kathern’s Jewel for most of the race, and pulled away late to win by one length.

Night Party earned an 87 speed figure for that race and should continue to move forward in just his third start.

Admiral Perry comes into the race with two back-to-back wins and ships in from Tampa Bay Downs. His speed figures have improved with each race and his finish times appear to be competitive with the local talent.

Admiral Perry should fit nicely in the bottom of the exotics.

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