Saturday, August 6, 2011

Best Pal, Phoenix Stakes Roundup

I’m busy this weekend but I want to briefly mention two key races on Sunday for two-year-old thoroughbreds.

Creative Cause looks like he could be the favorite when the morning line is set for the 41st running of the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar Racetrack.

Trained by Mike Harrington, Creative Cause heads the field of seven two-year-old colts with a top 107 Brisnet Speed Figure and an impressive 4¾-length maiden win at Hollywood Park on July 16. If he repeats that form, he will be tough to beat.

Creative Cause is a descendant of the Storm Cat branch of the Northern Dancer sire line which has produced three of the last four winners of the Best Pal Stakes: Azul Leon (2008), Salute The Sarge (2007) and Principle Secret (2006).

The two Bob Baffert entries – Night Tide and Brigand – look like they will be competitive as well.

Brigand finished second and Night Tide finished third to Majestic City, the impressive winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 17.

In their last race, Night Tide took the early lead while setting quick fractions and that is why he most likely faded to finish third. In this race, I look for jockey Martin Garcia to try and hold Night Tide just off of the lead in hopes of a better finish in the Best Pal.

Keeneland Phoenix Stakes

The $255,000 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1) at Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare, Ireland is shaping up to be a fantastic race with Timeform top-ranked colts Frederick Engels (113), Lilbourne Lad (111), Power (108), Gatepost (107) and Tough As Nails (107) competing for Group 1 honors.

Undefeated Power heads a field of seven colts and two fillies as the prohibitive 9-5 Twinspires favorite and he is the horse to beat. With three victories to his credit, Power comes into the race with a narrow neck win over Roman Soldier in the Coventry Stakes (Group 2) at Royal Ascot on June 14.

Lilbourne Lad (4-1) and long shot Tough As Nails (10-1), the first and second-place finishers in the Dubai Duty Free Railway Stakes (Group 2) at Curragh on June 26, appear to be the two most likely to give Power some competition.

Both have never finished worse than second. Lilbourne Lad comes into the race with three wins and second-place finish. Tough As Nails has two wins and two second-place finishes and he appears to be a horse for the course as three of his four races have been at Curragh.

Another long shot I like in this race is Parish Hall (20-1) who deserves an honorable mention. Parish Hall is stepping up in class and making his second bid to earn Group honors.

In his last race, Parish Hall finished second to the filly Remember Alexander who won the Korean Racing Authority Tyros Stakes (Group 3) by 4-lengths and earned a 107 Timeform rating for that that effort.

In his maiden debut, Parish Hall was a 1¾-length victor over third-place finisher Requinto in the Irish Stallion Farms E.b.f. Maiden race on April 10 at Leopardstown. Requinto has since earned a 110 Timeform ranking and is ranked fifth on the Timeform list of Top Two Year Olds.

Good luck!


  1. Hi Calvin
    I always enjoy stopping by here.
    Creative Cause looked like a pro, rating kindly and then going around horses to win the Best Pal at Del Mar this weekend. I thik we have a star in the making. Maybe the Del Mar Futurity next?...then ? as he develops to the BC Juvenile? Will be fun to watch his progress. Oh, and he is a lovely PGH, my fav!

  2. SR Vegas,

    I thought Creative Cause was impressive. We'll see if he continues to move forward. And, yes, I noticed he is a pretty gray horse (PGH) - your favorite.

    Thanks for the commentary.