Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hollywood Prevue Racing Roundup

The $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) is the marquee race at Hollywood Park tomorrow and seven 2-year-old thoroughbreds will go to the starting gate for a chance to earn graded stakes earnings.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sends
So Brilliant to the post at the 2-1 morning line favorite.

So Brilliant, a son of
Medaglia D’Oro, was rather brilliant winning his maiden debut in a sprint race by 2¼-lenghts at Santa Anita Park on October 22. So Brilliant earned a 95 Brisnet Speed Figure for that performance, leading gate to wire, and covered the 6-furlongs in a sharp 1:09.02.

So Brilliant shouldn’t have a problem stretching out to 7-furlongs and I look for him to be competitive.

Two long shots I like are
Empire Way, the 5-2 second choice, and Brother Francis who is 8-1 on the morning line.

Trained by Mike Harrington, Empire Way comes into the race with a win in his maiden debut at Hollywood Park on November 13. Empire Way covered the 6½-furlongs in 1:17.93 and earned an 84 speed figure for that effort.

“I don’t think the race took too much out of him,” said Harrington in a Daily Racing Form news story. “I think he needs another race before I run him a mile and a sixteenth.”

If Empire Way runs a good race, his next start will be in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park on December 17, noted Harrington who also has
Creative Cause in his stable. If Empire Way continues to move forward, Harrington could have two promising colts on the 2012 Triple Crown trail.

A full brother to Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner
Royal Delta, Empire Way has a nice pedigree and I’m anxious to see how well he performs in the Prevue.

Empire Maker, the sire of Empire Way, and grandsire Unbridled both were Classic Champion Thoroughbreds as were the damsire A.P. Indy, and grand damsire Seattle Slew.

The tail-female line of Empire Way is also pretty impressive.

Delta Princess, the dam of Empire Way, was a multiple graded stakes winner on the dirt and turf. Lyphard’s Delta, the second dam of Empire Way, raced in England and won the Vodafone Nassau Stakes (Group 2). Proud Delta, the third dam of Empire Way, also was a multiple graded stakes winner and the 1976 Eclipse Champion Older Mare.

Brother Francis comes into the race off of an impressive second-place finish in his maiden debut. The chart comment line notes: “BROTHER FRANCIS a bit slow to begin, dropped back off the rail, circled five wide into the stretch and finished well to gain the place late.”

Starting from post 12, Brother Francis came from dead last at the three eighths pole and was flying late at the finish. I like the way Brother Francis closed in the stretch and his pedigree indicates that he may have a good mix of speed and stamina that is so necessary to be a factor on the Derby trail.

Lion Heart, the sire of Brother Francis, was a precocious 2-year-old who won the 2003 Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) and Hollywood Futurity Stakes (G2). As a 3-year-old, Lion Heart finished second in the San Rafael Stakes (G2), Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1).

Brother Francis is a descendant of the
Tale Of The Cat, Storm Cat sire line and another 2-year-old winner from that line is Overdriven who won the Sanford Stakes (G2) at Saratoga on July 24.

The distaff part of the pedigree also has a good mix of speed and stamina and the damsire line is impressive with Classic Champion Thoroughbreds in the first three generations.

Spectrum, the damsire of Brother Francis, won the 8-furlong Irish 2,000 Guineas (Group 1) and finished second in the 10-furlong Prix du Prince d'Orange (Group 3). Rainbow Quest, the second damsire, won the 12-furlong Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Group 1). Blushing Groom, the third damsire, was a French Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, a European Champion Three-Year-Old Miler and winner of the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas).

Viapervita, the dam of Brother Francis, was a listed stakes winner in Germany. Way For Life, the second dam of Brother Francis, was listed stakes placed in Germany. Platini, the sire of Way For Life, was a Group One stakes winner in Germany. His sire, Surumu also sired Acatenango – the sire of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

If Brother Francis continues to improve off of his maiden win, he may have the potential to be a factor on the 2012 Derby trail.


Have a happy and save Thanksgiving everyone.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Delta Downs Jackpot Racing Roundup

The Delta Downs Jackpot (G3), with a $1 million dollar purse, is the first major graded stakes race on the trail to the 2012 Kentucky Derby. A win will give a young thoroughbred enough graded earnings to get into the Kentucky Derby and ten 2-year-olds go to the starting gate today to compete for a chance to earn a spot in the Derby starting gate.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert ships
Drill to the Jackpot from California and he’ll go to the post as the 2-1 morning line favorite.

With a win in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) in September, Drill is the only graded stakes winner entered in the race and appears to be the deserving favorite. Drill comes into the race with a 2-1-0 record in five starts and will be racing with blinkers.

I normally don’t pay attention to an equipment change unless it dramatically affects a horse’s performance. But twice Drill has finished out of the money when he raced without the blinkers – Drill finished eighth in his maiden debut and tenth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs.

It remains to be seen if the lack of blinkers was the reason for Drill’s poor performance. However, if Drill runs to his form in the Del Mar Futurity and second-place finish in the Norfolk Stakes (G1), he’ll be very competitive and tough to beat.

My Adonis is getting some buzz as the 4-1 morning line second-choice and comes into the race with two sharp wins including a 5¼-length victory in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs on October 22.

But three long shots I like and will use with Drill in the exotics are
Longview Drive (10-1), Laurie’s Rocket (10-1) and Jake Mo (15-1).

Longview Drive, a full-brother to Louisiana Derby winner Pyro, has never been out of the money in four starts and comes into the race with three wins including the
Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes at Santa Rosa racetrack and the Charlie Palmer Futurity at Fresno racetrack.

Although Longview Drive has yet to compete in a graded stakes race, with three wins in four starts he is farther along than Pyro who only had one win in four starts at this same time of year.

After a two month layoff, Longview Drive easily won his route debut last month going 8½-furlongs in 1:45.50 to win the Charlie Palmer Futurity by 1¼-lengths. The time was slow but I like it that he won off the layoff and he has room to improve his performance in the Jackpot.

I also like it that Joel Rosario has the mount.

I’ll be watching Laurie’s Rocket in the post parade to see how he looks. Laurie’s Rocket is taking a big step up in class but with Bluegrass Cat as his sire and American Chance as the damsire, Laurie’s Rocket has the breeding to handle the stretch out to 8½-furlongs.

Bluegrass Cat won the Remsen Stakes (G2), Nashua Stakes (G3), Sam F. Davis Stakes and finished second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1). American Chance was a decent middle-distance runner who won the Jersey Derby (G2), Lafayette Stakes (G3) and finished second in the Illinois Derby.

With the addition of blinkers in his last race, Laurie’s Rocket also showed big improvement earning a 91 Brisnet Speed Figure. If Laure’s Rocket improves off of that effort he should be competitive at a good price.

Jake Moe is taking a big step up in class and has never run in a route race. But with Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo as his sire and Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval as his damsire, he has the breeding to handle the stretch out.

And the stretch out to 8½-furlongs may be what Jake Moe needs as the comment line for several of his races indicates that he rallies late.

Good luck with your picks.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Stakes Roundup

Trainer Michael Matz will send Union Rags to the starting gate Saturday as the 2-1 morning line favorite of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Union Rags is the deserving favorite and he should be tough in the Juvenile. He comes in to the race undefeated in three starts including an eye- popping 7¼-length win in the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) and a 5¼-length win in the Champagne Stakes (G1).

Union Rags running style and pedigree indicate that he should be able to handle the stretch out to 8½-furlongs. The only questions are how well he’ll handle the 13-horse field and the start from post 10.

Dixie Union, the sire of Union Rags, was a precocious 2-year-old that won the Best Pal Stakes (G3), Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G3) and Norfolk Stakes (G2). As a 3-year-old, Dixie Union won the Haskell Invitational (G1) and Malibu Stakes (G1).

Creative Cause (7-2) is the best 2-year-old on the west coast and he should also be tough in the Juvenile. He comes into the race with three wins, including the Best Pal Stakes (G2) and Norfolk Stakes (G1), and a third-place finish in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), which was changed to a second-place finish due to interference from Majestic City in the final strides of the race.

Creative Cause is a young colt I’ve written about in his previous races and I really like him in the Juvenile. And he should get better as a 3-year-old.

Giant’s Causeway, the sire of Creative Cause, was undefeated in three starts as a two-year-old in Europe including a 2-length win in both the 7-furlong Futurity Stakes (Group 3) and the 7-furlong Prix de la Salamandre (Group 1).
Storm Cat, the grandsire of Creative Cause, is well known for siring precocious two-year-olds and he is the grandsire of Johannesburg – winner of the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Dream Of Summer, the dam of Creative Cause, was a multiple graded stakes winner who was competitive in sprint and route races up to 8½-furlongs and earned over $1 million during her racing career.

I don’t know if Alpha (15-1) will win but he should be competitive and he is the colt that most intrigues me in this race. Alpha has the best pedigree of any 2-year-old on the trail and if he lives up to his breeding, he should be a serious classic candidate next year.

His Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile, an index I use to measure classic potential, is a very good 97.5 – a score of 100 or more is excellent.

Bernardini, the sire of Alpha, was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred as were his grandsire, A. P. Indy and great grandsire Seattle Slew. Nijinsky, the damsire of Alpha, and Northern Dancer were also Classic Champion Thoroughbreds. Alydar, the sire of the second dam, would have been a Classic Champion Thoroughbred if it had not been for Affirmed.

Munnaya, the dam of Alpha, raced in England and won the 11-furlong Lingfield Oaks Trail Stakes and finished third in the 10-furlong Pretty Polly Stakes. The remaining four dams on the tail-female line – Hiaam, Kamar, Square Angel and Nangela – were all stakes winners. Kamar was the 1979 Canadian Champion 3-year-old filly and Square Angel was the 1973 Champion.

Alpha won his maiden debut by six lengths and was wheeled back a month later in the Champagne Stakes (G1) where he finished a respectable second to Union Rags.

I’ve seen horses with good pedigrees who failed to transfer their breeding to the racetrack and only time will tell how well Alpha fares on the Kentucky Derby trail. But Alpha should continue to improve as he gets older and I look for him to be competitive in the Juvenile.

Two other long shots I like are Drill (8-1) and Optimizer (15-1).

Drill finished eighth in his maiden debut but since then he has won two races, including the Del Mar Futurity (G1), and a second-place finish in the Norfolk Stakes (G1).

Lawyer Ron, the sire of Drill, won three races in 10 starts as a two-year-old including a 10-length romp in an one mile, 70-yard allowance race at Louisiana Downs and an 8½-length romp in the one mile Diamond Joe Stakes at Evangeline Downs.

The dam and grand dam of Drill were not that productive on the racetrack, but the third dam Water Dance won the Twilight Tear Stakes and placed in the Long Look Handicap (G2), Beaugay Handicap, Hannah Dustin Handicap and Miss Liberty Handicap.

Luiana, the fourth dam of Drill, was a Reine-de-Course producer of seven winners including Prayers'N Promises, winner of the Matron Stakes (G1) and Spinaway Stakes (G1), as well as the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Little Current.

Banquet Bell, the fifth dam of Drill, was a Matriarch of the Turf and the dam Chateaugay, winner of the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1).

Optimizer has never been out of the money in three starts and his trainer D. Wayne Lukas knows how to get young colts to the winners circle.

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).

Good luck with your Breeders’ Cup picks.