Our Horse Racing Race of the Week takes us to Gulfstream Park in Florida for the 2013 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic. The one and one eighth mile event will feature two of the top older male horses in training today in Mucho Macho Man and Ron The Greek.
A field of seven was drawn as the tenth race on the program which also includes five other Florida bred stakes races totaling $1.3 million in purses.
Before we breakdown the Millions Classic, let’s take a quick look at what’s happening elsewhere in the Horse Racing world this weekend.
The Fair Grounds in Louisiana is kicking off their 2013 Road to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday with the 2013 LeComte Stakes. The one mile and seventy yard race is the first in a series of prep races (Risen Star Stakes Feb 23, Louisiana Derby March 30) for three year old colts with Triple Crown aspirations.
Run every year (except 2006 due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina), the Lecomte’s past winners include a horse who I had close ties to and eventual Preakness winner Linkage (1982), Cash Deposit (1997), perhaps the most beautiful horse I’ve ever seen Hard Spun (2007), the equally gorgeous but erratic Fresian Fire (2008) and the aforementioned Ron The Greek, who made one of the most spectacular stretch runs I’ve seen in a while (2010)
The other interesting race on the Fair Grounds card on Saturday includes the eighth race (The Louisiana Handicap) where former 2012 Triple Crown candidates Brethren, who’s form seems to have tailed off since the beginning of his career, will square off against the talented Mark Valeski.
In New York, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sends out the regally bred Long River in the Jerome Stakes. The son of A. P. Indy out of 2006 Breeders Cup Distaff winner Round Pond was an impressive inner-track maiden at winner Aqueduct three weeks ago. Going further back, he was seventh in his September debut at Belmont Park, and then finished a game second to Delhomme (who later ran third in the Remsen Stakes) going a mile on October 13.
“It’s a big step up for him, going from a maiden to a Grade 2, but you have to have some dreams and hopes,” said McLaughlin, “He’s got the pedigree to go any distance, and we’re willing to give him a try.”
Lastly, I wanted to point out Saturday’s $150,000, Grade: 2 Palos Verdes Stakes going 6f’s at Santa Anita.
While scanning through the entries, several names caught my attention including Multiple Stakes winner and former Triple Crown contender Comma to the Top, along with Drill, who is coming back from an injury, crack east coast sprinter Justin Phillip and the fleet Apriority. That, readers, should be a heck of a horse race.
Gulfstream Park – Saturday, January 19, 2013
Race 10 – 5:05 PM
Florida Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes
For Four Year Olds and Upward (Registered Florida Breds)
One And One Eighth Miles
|1||1||I’m Steppin’ It Up||5/H||L||D Cohen||117||A Pecoraro||
|2||2||Mucho Macho Man||5/H||L||M E Smith||121||K Ritvo||
|3||3||Fort Loudon||4/C||L||J R Velazquez||117||N P Zito||
|4||4||Atoned||8/R||L||L Panici||117||S McGlinchey||
|5||5||Ron the Greek||6/H||L||J Lezcano||117||W I Mott||
|6||6||Decaf Again||7/G||L||C J Lanerie||117||B R Rose||
|7||7||Cash Rules||6/G||L||L Saez||121||D Fawkes||
1) Mucho Macho Man- it’s no secret I like this gargantuan son of Macho Uno and believe me folks it’s not because this horse and the horse I (partial) own are stablemates.
Its several other reasons, first of all he is 2 for 3 over the Gulfstream surface. Second, if you (like me) watched his Suburban Handicap win closely last year, I was waiting for him to sprout wings during the running of that race.
In the Suburban he sat just off a hot early pace, took command of the race at the quarter pole and came home to win by two lenghts in an eye popping 1:46.3 for 1 1/8 miles.
At the time, I thought that race was the best race he’d ever run and I include his fast closing third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby in there too…well…I did until this past years Breeders Cup Classic when he absolutely ran his eyeballs out only to get beat a half a length by (Horse of the Year candidate) Fort Larned.
Monster work (5F- :58.3) last week (Jan 13) and the fact that he’s beaten (what appears to be) his main rival in this race (Ron The Greek) twice last year, seals the deal for me.
I’m taking this hulking chestnut to keep my (so far) perfect 2013 record intact…
2) Ron The Greek- there are a lot of things I like about this horse too. Like say his trainer (Bill Mott), his running style (late runner) and the fact that he’s already a Grade: 1 stakes winner.
He’s absolutely a better horse since being handed over to Mott last year and that BC Classic race isn’t as bad as it looks (4th, beaten almost 8 lengths) because he broke “awkwardly” and trailed the field after the first quarter mile….he did make a nice, albeit four wide, run from about the 3/8’ths pole to the wire.
Like I said, I like the trainer, like the horse and like the running style and I won’t be surprise if he wins this race…..but the fact still remains he was beaten twice by the top pick last year.
3) Fort Loudon- has really only run one bad race out of his last eight races (seventh in the Grade: 1 Vosburgh).
In the other seven races he show close up finishes including a just miss second in the King’s Bishop (back in August at Saratoga) and back to back solid seconds leading up to this race. On paper, he looks best of the rest
Cash Rules is a speedy gelding by Peace Rules who had a four race winning streak snapped by a streaking Csaba in his last start. He steps way up in company on Saturday afternoon but will be in front early….but the question is for how long?
2013: 2-2= 100%
2012: 24-74= 32%
Little Bets N’ Pieces:
**** Eblouissante, a half sister to 2012 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, made it 2 for 2 in her career with another come from behind win yesterday (Thursday) in an optional allowance race at Santa Anita.
Eblouissante, the heavy 3-5 betting favorite, much like her older sister, broke a step slowly and dropped back last early on.
But when jockey Corey Nakatani gave her her cue, Eblouissante lengthened her stride beautifully and eventually wore down leader Pink Blossom. She edged away to a 1 ¾’s length win while running the last sixteeth of a mile in :06.2
“She’s a lot like her dam in a lot of ways, slow out of the gate, big strides,” said trainer John Shirreffs, who also trained Zenyatta.
“She sat nicely. She moved up nicely. She stayed right where Corey wanted her, and at the end picked it up a little more. It was very good (effort).”
“She’s such a big filly,” Nakatani said. “She may look like she breaks slowly but she doesn’t. She actually breaks very well. They ran away from her a little, so I just dropped her steady inside. The plan was to see how she handled the dirt today and she handled it better than we thought she would.”
Shirreffs said he is “unsure” where the big, dark filly would run next.
**** Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder appears to be ready for her 2013 three year-old debut (in Monday’s Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita) with a 1:13 six-furlong drill last Friday.
In Beholder’s prior work, she drilled five furlongs in a quick :58 4/5 Jan. 4.
“Her last work was the big one,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “Today was just a maintenance work, but it was terrific.”
**** Several weeks ago I reported that 2003 Travers winner Ten Most Wanted was sold and was shipped to Panama.
Evidently something went wrong as it was announced that Ten Most Wanted died Jan. 8 at British Mist Breeding Station in Panama.
Prior to being relocated to Panama in late 2012, 13-year-old Ten Most Wanted, whose progeny have acculiated over $3.2 million thus far, stood at Magali Farms near Santa Ynez, Ca.
No cause of death has been released…yet
**** The immensely talented Fed Biz recorded the first graded stakes win of his career with a wire to wire win in the $150,000 San Fernando Stakes last weekend at Santa Anita.
Coming off two disappointing efforts (Eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and sixth-place finish in the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes) jockey Mike Smith, who rode Fed Biz in the Malibu for the first time, said the colt was “overheated” before the race that day (the malibu on Dec 26). But he said Baffert and his team worked hard on getting him to relax in the mornings.
“It paid off today. That was the key,” Smith said.
“I expect so much from this horse, when he loses, it’s very disappointing,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He’s a very talented horse and he was good today going to the gate and he ran well. In the Malibu, he went to the gate and he tried to sit down in there … so it was a tough go. I kept telling (owner) Kaleem, ‘He’s such a good horse.'”
The March 2 Santa Anita Handicap looks to be the next logical step for Fed Biz for his next start.
***** Probable two year old colt champion and the unbeaten Shanghai Bobby breezed five furlongs in 1:01.2 at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida last Sunday
The work, which was a prep for his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park Jan. 26, was the 12th fastest of 21 who went the same distance that day.
**** 2012 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll ‘s 2013 debut will have to wait longer then expected due to “abnormal” results from routine blood work.
“Her blood work hasn’t been just right yet, so we haven’t even taken her to the track yet. She’s eating good; her temperature’s normal; she’s not coughing; but she’s had to be put on antibiotics, trying to get her blood right,” said trainer and co-owner Buff Bradley.
“It’s showing there’s some kind of infections she’s fighting. We pulled it again on Monday, and it’s getting better. So we thought we’d walk her another five days and pull it again and see how that’s like. We’ve been pulling bloods to make sure the horse is right before we go back with her. We’re not pushed for time or anything.”
“She’s been very healthy. She’s had all her vaccines and everything, it’s just may be a bug or something,” the trainer said. “She really hasn’t shown a big sickness or anything, which is good. But I don’t want to start her training and knock her back, because that’s what would happen.”
**** 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom turned in a bullet, five-furlong breeze this past Monday at Palm Meadows Training Center.
Working for the second straight Monday and the fifth time since Dec. 11, Animal Kingdom completed five furlongs in 1:02 flat on the turf and galloped out in six furlongs in 1:14.