Wednesday, August 31, 2011

With Anticipation Stakes Roundup

Captain Webb heads a field of nine two-year-old thoroughbreds Wednesday as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite in a wide-open edition of the $150,000 With Anticipation Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course.

A tenth entrant, Clip The Coupons, has been entered for the main track only. All of the horses entered in the race have been competing in the maiden ranks and have yet to earn Graded Stakes honors.

In his only race, Captain Webb won his maiden debut by 2½-lengths in an 8½ -furlong turf race at Saratoga on July 30. Captain Webb earned an 88 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort but his final time of 1:45.25 is a bit slow and there are others I like better in this race.

State Of Play, the 5-1 morning line third-choice, is stepping up in class and has never run in a route race but looked impressive winning his maiden debut by 2½-lengths at Saratoga on July 27. State Of Play earned an 88 speed figure for that effort and covered the 5½-furlongs in a sharp 1:02.99.

State Of Play has good speed and he should be able to easily stretch out to 8½-furlongs. I like his pedigree too.

His sire, War Front, also sired Soldat, winner of the 2010 With Anticipation Stakes (G2) and second-place finisher in the 8-furlong Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G2) and 8½-furlong Pilgrim Stakes (G3). Soldat went on as a three-year-old to win the 9-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

War Front also sired The Factor, a speedy colt who as a two-year-old won the 7-furlong San Vicente Stakes (G2) and went on as a three-year-old to win the 8½-furlong Rebel Stakes (G2).

Procida, the damsire of State Of Play, was a Group 1 winner of the 7-furlong Prix de la Foret before he was shipped to America where he won the 1984 edition of the Hollywood Derby (G1) at 8½-furlongs.

State of Play also has a lot of good influence from the tail-female line which traces back to the fifth dam Bourtai – a Matriarch of the Turf. Bourtai is ranked third on Roger Lyons of Pedigree Matters Top 40 Dam Lines of SW’s, 1995 to Present.

Alluvial, the third dam of State Of Play, is also the dam of 1979 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Coastal and the grand dam Aptitude who finished second in the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1).

Dancing Detente, the second dam of State Of Play, was an unraced dam of eight winnners. Valeta, the dam of State Of Play, won three races at the age of four and is also the dam of four winners.

Two long shots I like are Optimizer (8-1) and Knock Rock (8-1).

Optimizer also comes into the race off of an impressive maiden debut win at Saratoga on August 6. Optimizer trailed at the back of the 10-horse field for most of the race, went six wide on the far turn, and showed an impressive burst of speed in the final furlong to win by a neck.

Optimizer covered the 8½-furlongs in a time of 1:42.67 which is the fastest of all the other horses entered in the race. If Optimizer repeats the form of his last race, he will be competitive.

Optimizer also has a good pedigree.

English Channel, the sire of Optimizer, was the 2007 Eclipse Champion Turf Male and a multiple Graded Stakes winner who was competitive from 10 to 12-furlongs. Belmont Stakes winner and Sire of Sires A. P. Indy is the damsire of Optimizer.

Indy Pick, the dam of Optimizer, was not stakes placed but had had 2-1-1 record in 6 starts. Fantastic Find, the second dam of Optimizer, won the Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap and placed in several other Graded Stakes races.

Blitey, the third dam of Optimizer, and fourth dam Lady Pitt are Reines-de-Course Mares (Queens of the turf).

In his last race, Knock Rock took the early lead and appeared to be in good position to break his maiden when he bolted to the outside on the far turn. Jockey Rajiv Maragh managed to keep him in the race and the pair crossed the finish line in third-place.

The fractions that Knock Rock set in that 8½-furlong turf race were pretty good and if he can repeat that form without blowing the far turn, he should be competitive at a good price.

Two Months Rent (6-1) deserves an honorable mention as he was on only beaten by a half-length to finish third to Optimizer in his last race.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gimcrack Stakes Racing Roundup

The Yorkshire Ebor Festival will feature nine two-year-old thoroughbreds at the post Friday, with Lilbourne Lad as the tepid Twinspires 2-1 morning line favorite, competing for Group honors in a wide open edition of the $218,500 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes (Group 2) at York Racecourse.

With a fourth-place finish in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1) at Curragh Racecourse on August 7, Lilbourne Lad gets a quick return to the post by trainer Richard Hannon who has won the Gimcrack four times since 1988.

He’s been racing in good company and in the Phoenix Stakes Lilbourne Lad was only beaten 2½-lengths by Timeform top-ranked La Collina (111), Power (113) and Tough As Nails (107). However, with a 110 Timeform rating and a win in the Dubai Duty Free Railway Stakes (Group 2), Lilbourne Lad is the only horse in the field with a Group win to his credit and appears to be the deserving favorite.

Acclamation, the sire of Lilbourne Lad, was a precocious two-year-old and at stud he tops the Racing Post Top sires of two-year-olds list with 19 winners in 48 runners for a 40% strike rate.

Royal Applause, the grandsire of Lilbourne Lad, was a first-class sprinter and winner of the 1995 Gimcrack Stakes (G2). At stud, Royal Applause has 11 winners in 37 runners for a 30% strike rate.

Green Desert, pensioned from stud, is the damsire of Lilbourne Lad and the grandsire of Grimcack Stakes (Group 2) winners Approve (2010), Showcasing (2009) and Conquest (2006).

Burwaaz, the 6-1 morning line third-choice, has yet to earn Group honors but in five starts, he has one win and three second-place finishes and if he repeats his previous form he should be competitive.

In his last race, Burwaaz was a 1¼-length runner up to Timeform rated Requinto (110) in the Molecomb Stakes (Group 3) at the Goodwood Racecourse Glorious Goodwood festival. Prior to that, Burwaaz finished second to Timeform top-rated Harbour Watch (118) in a conditions stakes at Newmarket Racecourse.

Burwaaz suffered his only out-of-the-money finish in the Norfolk Stakes (Group 2) at Royal Ascot where he was beaten 2¾-lengths by Timeform ranked Bapak Chinta (115) and runner up Boomerang Bob (107).

Exceed And Excel, the sire of Burwaaz, was a first-class Australian sprinter and he is ranked fifth on the Racing Post Top sires of two-year-olds list with 15 winners in 44 runners for a 34% strike rate.

Two long shots I like are Justineo (8-1) and Sardanapalus (10-1).

Justineo has never been out of the money in three starts and he comes into the race with a 2½-length win as the odds on favorite in the Russian Standard Vodka E.b.f. Maiden Stakes at Newmarket on July 29. Justineo trailed the seven-horse field most of the race but showed a good turn of foot to pull away in the final furlong and win with ease.

Justineo is a descendant of the Danzig sire line and since 1990 that line has produced eight Gimcrack winners: Approve (2010), Showcasing (2009), Shaweel (2008), Conquest (2006), Amadeus Wolf (2005), Country Reel (2002), Rock of Gibraltar (2001) and Mull Of Kintyre (1999).

Oasis Dream, the sire of Justineo, also sired the Grimcrack winners Approve and Showcasing and he is ranked 11th on the Racing Post Top sires of two-year-olds list with 10 winners in 23 runners for a 43% strike rate.

Classic Champion Thoroughbred Montjeu is the damsire of Justineo and he currently has five two-year-old winners in eight runners for a 63% strike rate. Some of his best two-year-old runners and top money earners include: Fame And Glory, Authorized, Motivator, St. Nicholas Abbey and Jan Vermeer to name a few.

Sardanapalus is making a big step up in class but he looked impressive enough in his maiden win at Hamilton Park on July 14 for trainer Kevin Ryan to give him a shot at Group honors. Ryan trained the 2005 Gimcrack winner Amadeus Wolf.

Sent off as the 5-4 favorite in his maiden debut, Sardanapalus broke slowly and had traffic problems but settled nicely when moved to race free and clear on the outside of the nine-horse field. Sardanapalus made a nice move to take the lead in the final 50 yards and kept on to win by a neck.

Jockey Phil Makin retains the mount for the Gimcrack and if Sardanapalus looks good, he may be worthy of a wager.

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Acomb Stakes Racing Roundup

The four-day Yorkshire Ebor Festival opens tomorrow at York Racecourse and 13 two-year-old thoroughbreds will be competing for Group honors when they go to the post in the $78,000 Acomb Stakes (Group 3) which is listed as the second race on the six-race card.

Balty Boys, trained by Barry Hills, is the lukewarm Twinspires 4-1 morning line favorite. In his last race, Balty Boys led from the start as the 7-4 favorite and went on to break his maiden by an impressive 4½ -lengths.

If Balty Boys repeats the form of his maiden win he should be competitive.

Balty Boys is a descendant of the Danzig sire line and that line produced the Acomb Stakes winners Waiter’s Dream (2010) and Fast Company (2007).

Cape Cross, the sire of Balty Boys, is also the sire of the outstanding thoroughbreds Sea The Stars, Ouija Board, and Able One. Some of his best two-year-old runners incluce Sea The Stars, Behkabad and Halicarnassus.

According to the Racing Post Top sires of two-year-olds list Cape Cross has two winners in 20 runners for a 20% strike rate.

Elusive Quality, the damsire of Balty Boys, has four two-year-old winners in nine runners for a 44% strike rate. Some of his best runners include Raven’s Pass, Smarty Jones, Quality Road, Sepoy and he is the sire of 2009 Acomb Stakes winner Elusive Pimpernel.

Two long shots I like are Furner’s Green (8-1) and Entifaadha (12-1).

Furner’s Green looked impressive winning his maiden debut by 3-lengths in a 7½-furlong maiden race at Tipperary Racecourse last month. Placed toward the rear of a 10-horse field, Furner’s Green steadily gained ground until taking the lead in the stretch to win with ease.

Furner’s Green looked like he had plenty of reserve left and a move forward off of that effort will make him tough to beat.

His sire, Classic Champion Thoroughbred and first-crop stallion Dylan Thomas, is ranked 49th on the Racing Post Top sires of two-year-olds list with four winners in 18 runners for a 22% strike rate. A win by Furner’s Green will move Dylan Thomas up the list and if he lives up to his breeding, Furner’s Green may have some classic potential.

Rainbow Quest, the damsire of Furner’s Green, was the 1985 Champion Older Male in England and France and the winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Furner’s Green also has a nice tail-female line. His dam, Lady Icarus is the dam of stakes winners Mystical Lady and Lady Lupus. His second dam, Sonic Lady, was the 1986 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in Europe and the dam of Group winners Hazaam and Sharman.

Entifaadha comes into the Acomb Stakes off of an impressive maiden debut win in the 7-furlong Ballygallon Stud maiden stakes at Newmarket on July 23. Entifaadha tracked the leaders in the 20-horse field before pulling away in the final strides to win by 2¾-lengths.

Entifaadha should improve off of that effort and I really like his pedigree.

Entifaadha, out of dam Model Queen, is a half-brother to multiple Group winning sprint specialist Regal Parade and middle-distance Group-placed Hot Prospect. (For the benefit of my American blog followers, in England all Middle Distance Division Group races for three-year-old thoroughbreds start at 10-furlongs while the Stayers Division Group races start at 12-furlongs.)

Dansili, the sire of Entifaadha, is ranked 17th on the Racing Post Top sires of two-year-olds list with eight winners in 16 runners for a 50% strike rate. Some of Dansili’s best two-year-old Group winners include Proviso, Passage Of Time, Zoffany, Strategic Prince and Shaweel to name few.

Classic Champion Thoroughbred Kingmambo, the damsire of Entifaadha is the sire of several Classic Champion Thoroughbreds in England and Japan as well as the Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid.

Kingmambo sired Acomb Stakes winner Rule Of Law (2003) and King’s Best (1999) who went on to win the England 2,000 Guineas (Group 1). Kingmambo also is the grandsire of Elliot’s World, winner of the 2004 Acomb Stakes.

Classic Champion Thoroughbred Blushing Groom is the sire of Entifaadha’s second dam Model Bride and his sire line is well known as influence of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Blushing John, Nashwan, Rainbow Quest and the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

Mofida, the third dam of Entifaadha, is the grand dam of Zafonic, winner of the England 2,000 Guineas (Group 1),

Good luck at the Ebor Festival.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saratoga Special Racing Roundup

Trainer Todd Pletcher will be looking for his first win Monday in the $150,000 Three Chimneys Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) when he sends Stat, the prohibitive 7-5 morning line favorite, to the starting gate.

Stat is stepping up in class and comes into the race with a 2-length maiden win in a 5½-length sprint race at Belmont Park on July 9. Stat earned a 95 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort, which is the highest of all six horses entered in the race.

If Stat repeats the form of his maiden win, he should be competitive.

Stat is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and since 1990 that line has produced seven winners of the Saratoga Special: Run Away And Hide (2008), Chace City (2006), Cuvee (2003), City Zip (2000), Bevo (1999), Prime Directive (1998) and Tactical Advantage (1992).

Unbridled’s Song, the sire of Stat, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1), Florida Derby (G1) and Wood Memorial Stakes (G2). Some of his best two-year-old runners were Eclipse Champion Midshipman, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and Del Mar Futurity (G1), Rockport Harbor, winner of the Remsen Stakes (G2) and Nashua Stakes (G3) and Remsen Stakes (G2) winner Old Fashioned.

Unbridled’s Song has yet to have a two-year-old crack the top 100 in career earnings of the Thoroughbred Times 2011 Juvenile Sire List but a win by Stat could change all that.

Undefeated in three starts, Banner Bill (6-1) already has a couple of stakes wins to his credit and he looks like he will be competitive. Banner Bill comes into the race with a 5¾-length win in the Victoria Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack on June 18 and almost a month later he returned to Woodbine and won the Colin Stakes by one length.

Banner Bill is also a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and with $220,815 in career earnings he is the third best runner for his young sire Rockport Harbor who is ranked fifth on the Thoroughbred Times Juvenile Sire List.

Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Summer Squall, the damsire of Banner Bill, was precocious as a two-year-old in winning the Hopeful Stakes (G1), Saratoga Special Stakes (G2), Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) and Kentucky Juvenile Stakes (G3).

So it will be interesting to see if Banner Bill continues his winning streak and lives up to his breeding.

Trainer Josie Carroll ships maiden winner Indian Evening (5-1) in from Woodbine for chance to earn Graded Stakes honors. On July 10, Indian Evening broke his maiden by 1½-lengths going 6-furlongs in a quick 1:09.91.

Indian Charlie, the sire of Indian Evening, won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and finished third in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Unbridled’s Song is the damsire of Indian Blessing.

A couple of Indian Charlie’s best two-year-old runners were Eclipse Champion Male Uncle Moe, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes and Champagne Stakes (G1) and Eclipse Champion Female Indian Blessing, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes (G1) and Frizette Stakes (G1).

If Indian Evening repeats the form of his maiden win, he should be competitive.