Friday, April 6, 2012

Santa Anita Derby Racing Roundup

Trainer Mike Harrington is looking to score his first win in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and it appears that he has a good chance with Creative Cause who will go to the starting gate Saturday as the 6-5 morning line favorite in the 75th running of the $750,000 graded stakes race at Santa Anita Park.

Creative Cause has been on my watch list since last summer and in my 2012 Kentucky Derby Outlook I wrote about him as a young colt with a lot of talent. He’s raced in all the big graded-stakes races on the west coast, never finishing worse than third, and he comes into the Santa Anita Derby with a 4-1-2 record in seven career starts.

In the second start of his 3-year-old season, Creative Cause showed a lot of improvement defeating a very talented Bodemeister by three-quarters of a length in the 8½-furlong San Felipe Stakes (G2).

In his last three races, Creative Cause has earned three straight 102 Brisnet Speed Figures. I’d like to see him increase that number and run the 9-furlong Derby in a time of 1:48 or less.

With $686,000 in graded stakes earnings, Creative Cause has earned his spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, so he doesn’t need to win but I’m expecting him to win or run a good race and show that he’s continuing to improve and move forward.

Brother Francis (20-1) is another young colt that has the potential to make a big move forward and he’s my long shot pick. I liked him early last year, too, and profiled him in my Derby outlook. But, still a maiden with two seconds and two third-place finishes, Brother Francis has yet to live up to my expectations.

With his trailing at the back of the “herd” running style, I’ve always thought that Brother Francis would perform better at longer races and his pedigree seems to indicate that he could be competitive at any distance.

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).

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 damsire of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

Brother Francis finished third, narrowly losing by a head, in his 3-year-old debut last month at Santa Anita. The time for the one mile maiden race on the turf was a sharp 1:34.39 and that’s what I like to see in a colt that may have classic potential.

Brother Francis has room to improve in his second start of the season and he’ll need to run the best race of his career as a second-place finish may not give him enough graded stakes earnings to go to Kentucky.

Since winning his 3-year-old debut in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2), I’ll Have Another (5-2) has not raced for more than two months but long layoffs don’t seem to have much of an effect as he won the Lewis as a 43.30 to one long shot off of a four month break. I’ll Have Another ran the 8½-furlongs in a sharp 1:40.84 and earned a 102 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort.

Since then, I’ll Have another has had three straight long distance work outs including a mile work on March 12. Prior the Lewis stakes, trainer Doug O’Neill used a similar work pattern for I’ll Have Another, with two 7-furlong work outs, so he could be ready to run another good race.

With Flower Alley as the sire of I’ll Have Another and Arch as the damsire, the stretch out to 9-furlongs should not be a problem.

Flower Alley was a good middle-distance runner that won Travers Stakes (G1), Lane's End Stakes (G2) and Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) as a 3-year-old. Arch also was a good 3-year-old that won the 10-furlong Super Derby and the 9½-furlong Fayette Breeders' Cup Stakes (G3). In addition, Arch sired Blame, winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and Eclipse Champion Older Male, and he also sired the 2006 Canadian Horse of the Year Arravale.

Liaison (8-1) appears to be the best entry for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert who also has Paynter (12-1) and Blueskiesandrainbows (20-1) entered in the Santa Anita Derby.

No comments:

Post a Comment