There are actually four races in the sport Horse Racing this weekend for three year olds with 2013 Kentucky Derby aspirations, but I’ll be focusing the 2013 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Racetrack in California where He’s Had Enough is listed as the morning line favorite.
Before we breakdown the Robert B. Lewis, let’s take a brief look at the other three races for three year olds around the country and I also want to mention a race in the older horse division as well.
Merit Man, who is just a nose shy of being a perfect four for four in his career, will try to stretch his speed one furlong longer than he’s ever been before in the seven furlong, $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Merit Man won the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at six furlongs at Gulfstream on New Year’s Day by three quarters of a length. In the Spectacular Bid Stakes, the speedster was coming off his only loss. (A nose to longhshot Hightail as the 1-2 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita last November).
“I was happy about his race in the Spectacular Bid trainer Robert Hess said.”He was hooked and was very game to go on from there. He doesn’t need to be on the lead. I’d rather see him sit and stalk. He’s got a better post for this race.”
“I think he will have to improve from the Spectacular Bid to handle the competition he’ll face in the Hutcheson,” Hess added. “I’m not really worried about the seven furlongs. I think anything up to a one-turn mile is well within his range.”
Staying in Florida but heading further north to Tampa Bay Downs is the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at one and one sixteenth mile.
Canadian shipper My Name is Michael, who finished second Display Stakes at Woodbine last year, looks to be the horse to beat on paper.
It also appears My Name is Michael’s main opponent will be fellow Canadian Dynamic Sky, who is coming off an impressive win in the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay (which he had to overcome a troubled trip but still won going away.)
There are several others in the field who are looking to put themselves in as Derby contenders and they include:
Speak Logistics, who won the In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder by 2 3/4 lengths. Before the In Reality, this colt broke his maiden by almost 6 lengths at Monmouth Park.
The lightly raced Divine Ambition, who broke his maiden by eight lengths at Turfway Park before finishing third in the Pasco in only his second career start, is also entered.
Nick Zito will send out Midnite Poppa (by Unbridled’s Song) who is coming off a 1 1/4-length maiden victory at Tampa going this same (1 1/16 miles) distance.
Lastly, if Falling Sky can stretch out his speed effectively around two turns, he should be a threat to win this race as well. Falling Sky won two of his first three starts, including a 1 3/4-length score in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream.
Moving up the east coast to Aqueduct in New York, trainer Todd Pletcher, who appears to have 9,000 promising Derby contenders, will send out highly regarded Revolutionary in the $200,000 Withers Stakes.
Owned by WinStar Farm, the regally bred colt (War Pass–Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy), broke his maiden last time out by 8 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct.
Revolutionary, who has experienced horrendous racing luck thus far in his career, may not have an easy time of it on Saturday afternoon however.
Several other talented horses showed up in the entry box in the (yet another) 1 1/16ths miles event.
Philadelphia shipper Siete de Oros, who showed great heart while making the unbeaten Vyjack have to work hard to win the Jerome, Long River, another regally bred colt (A.P. Indy out of Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Round Pond), and his stable mate, Valid, a $500,000 yearling who broke his maiden by 3 3/4 lengths at Laurel Park Dec. 31, are amongst the challengers to Revolutionary.
Out west and in the older horse division, the enormously talented Fed Biz, who out-gunned a game Tritap by a head in the San Fernando Stakes three weeks ago, will meet up with his nemesis once again as those two will both run in the $200,000 Strub Stakes Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
Mike Smith will ride Fed Biz, who was a $950,000 Keeneland September yearling (2010) and has won four of eight lifetime starts, including three of five at Santa Anita.
Triptap, who nearly upset the San Fernando at odds of 9-1 for trainer Steve Asmussen, had only one prior stakes outing, (sixth in the Indiana Derby in October). He has two wins and four seconds from eight lifetime starts and will be ridden (once again) by Corey Nakatani.
One other horse to watch is Handsome Mike. If he bounces back to form, he could be dangerous. This colt lost for the third consecutive time in the San Fernando since upsetting the Pennsylvania Derby last September for trainer Doug O’Neill.
Santa Anita Park – Saturday, February 2, 2013
Race 4 – 2:03 PM
Robert B. Lewis Stakes-Grade II
One And One Sixteenth Miles
|1||Little Jerry||3/C||L||T Baze||118||R Baltas|
|2||Flashback||3/C||L||J R Leparoux||118||B Baffert|
|3||Den’s Legacy||3/C||L||G K Gomez||120||B Baffert|
|4||He’s Had Enough||3/C||L||M Gutierrez||118||D F O’Neill|
1) Den’s Legacy– at first glance he didn’t appear to me as a standout choice to win this race. I mean, if you’ve been follwing me, you know I like horses with high “batting averages” and with this colt by Medaglio d’Oro batting .220 (2 for 9 lifetime in his career) and with most of his success coming on thr turf, it didn’t bode well for me at first.
But, like the title of this article says, a closer look shows…. he has some ability on the dirt as well.
In his last race (the Sham Stakes, Jan 5), he broke slowly from the gate yet still finished only 1 ½ lengths behind rising star Goldencents and an eye popping 15 lengths ahead of the third place finisher in that race as well.
Throw in the fact he finished third, beaten less than four lengths to yet another rising star, Violence, back-to-back five-furlong bullet workouts on the Santa Anita main track and a “race within the race” win over (probable main foe) He’s Had Enough and you get what looks like the winner…on paper at least.
2) He’s Had Enough– play on words named colt comes from the same connections as last year Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner I’ll Have Another (I’ll Have Another…..He’s Had Enough…get it??) in trainer Doug O’Neill, owner Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez.
This colt’s claim to fame was battling then unbeaten and two year old colt champion Shanghai Bobby every step of the way down the stretch in a thrilling Breeders Cup Juvenile last November.
But once again, a closer look shows, other than a maiden win back in August, this horse has done very little.
Yes…he recorded a monster work for this race (Jan 25- 6F- 1:10.4) and yes, there is no doubt this horse has serious ability but I’m a little turned off by a) his no where finshes in the other three races in his career and b) a recent statement by O’Neill himself.
“He’s a horse that doesn’t apply himself,” said O’Neill, “You have to stay after him to keep him to his task. About mid-work Friday, Mario said he could feel him coming off the bridle and stop trying. So he got after him, he finished up good, and came out of it great. I think the more Mario gets to know him, the better we’re going to see him.”
Stop trying? Did he say this horse stopped trying?….I don’t know about you, but that does NOT bode well with me. Perhaps he needs to mature a little more and if he runs big on Saturday and wins (and in turn beats me) so be it…I’ll respect him more but until then, I don’t think its wise to put money on a horse who’s trainer says things like “doesn’t apply himself” or “stops trying”…that, readers, is a red flag for me.
3) Flashback– was very impressive and very professional in winning his racing debut back on Dec 8th.
In that race, he rated kindly back in fourth position early then launched a three wide bid for the lead at the head of the stretch and pulled away to win by 3 ½ lengths while getting seven furlongs in respectable 1:23 flat.
Since then, Flashback has been tearing up the racetrack in the mornings, most recently posting a bullet :59 2/5 for five furlongs on Jan. 28. Eleven days earlier, he ripped a half-mile in :46 3/5, also a bullet move.
So with all those positives in his favor, why am I putting him third? Two reasons…1) he goes from a maiden race to a Grade: 2 race (big step up) and 2) the stretch out in distance (he tries two turns for the first time).
Remember “Handicapping Horse Racing Rule #1….Never bet a horse who is being asked to do something he’s never done before.
That being said, if this horse breaks that rule….I won’t be shocked.
2013: 2-4= 50
2012: 24-74= 32%
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Little Bets N’ Pieces:
**** Jockey Joe Rocco Jr. won his 1,000th race Jan. 24 when he took the ninth at Gulfstream Park aboard Rustler Hustler.
Rocco Jr., 30, is the son of jockey Joe Rocco Sr., won his first career race at Tampa Bay Downs in 1999, and through Jan. 23 had ridden 7,999 mounts to earnings of $25,876,189.
**** Russell Baze, North America’s all-time leading jockey by victories, reached another major milestone Jan. 25 at Golden Gate Fields by becoming the first to ride 50,000 races.
The 54-year-old Baze could manage only a third on 3-2 favorite Finish Rich in Nyc in his 50,000th start, a $12,500 claiming race for older fillies and mares at six furlongs.
“I was thinking I was going to go right through the whole card, but it was not to be,” joked racing’s all-time blue-collar rider afterward.
“I don’t think it’s any big thing just going out there that many times, but going out there and really being successful at it, that’s what is important.”
“I’m pretty fit. I’ve got a lot of miles under me. I don’t think my physical skills have diminished any at all. I get the odd ache and pain here and there but it’s manageable.”
Laffit Pincay Jr., who was forced to retire due to injuries in 2003, is second on the North American rider list with 48,486 starts. The closest active jockey to Baze is Edgar Prado, who ranked ninth overall through Jan. 24 with 35,797 mounts.
Baze said he is giving no thought to retirement, adding, “Well, I think I’ve got a couple years left in me, anyway. Right now, I’m having a blast and have no intention of quitting,”
He later added: “I figure in 2016 I’ll have 40 years in, and so, that might be enough. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”
Baze has won 44 riding championships at Golden Gate Fields, and also led the jockey standings 40 times at defunct Bay Meadows Race Course. He has led the nation in victories 12 times, including 2012 and was elected into the National Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 9, 1999.
**** With jockey Ramon Dominguez hospitalized (and recovering well) after suffering a fractured skull, trainer Graham Motion and owner Team Valor International have named Joel Rosario as Animal Kingdom’s new (temporary?) jockey.
Rosario will be aboard the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Saturday, Feb. 9.
**** Kauai Katie captured the Forward Gal Stakes by 8 lengths while getting seven furlongs in 1:22 flat last Saturday at Gulfstream under jockey John Velazquez
The victory was the fifth (in six starts) for Kauai Katie.
**** Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby, the one- two finishers in the Holy Bull Stakes last Saturday at Gulfstream Park, both came out of the race well and are likely headed for a rematch in the $1 million Florida Derby March 30.
Trainer Ed Plesa proclaimed Itsmyluckyday to be “110 percent” the morning after the Holy Bull in what was a two length win over the previously unbeaten Shanghai Bobby, who set the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull as the even-money favorite.
“We had a good year last year and started this year even better,” said Plesa. “In this game you have to enjoy it when things are going your way and hold on to it because it will come to an end eventually. Right now I would say we’ll wait for the Florida Derby for his next start.”
Shanghai Bobby also came out of the race (the first loss of his career) in good order, trainer Todd Pletcher said.
From where I sit, the son of Harlan’s Holiday ran very well in the Holy Bull being the winner ran near the track record and he was making his first start since his grueling victory in the Breeders Cup Juvenile last Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
“He came back great, really good. We’re not only pleased with his performance but how he came out of it,” Pletcher said
“We’re not making any excuses. We felt like we ran great—12 lengths clear of the third horse and three-fifths off the track record,” said Pletcher, whose colt was ridden by Rosie Napravnik. “It was a huge effort. We were second best on the day, but we were really happy with his effort.”
Pletcher indicated the Florida Derby would be next.
“I talked to (owner) Jack Wolf a little bit. We’re not going to make any decisions yet, but at the same time, we don’t see any reason to deviate from our original plan,” Pletcher said.
**** Oklahoma Quarter Horse trainer Roberto Sanchez-Munzoz was fined $100,000 and suspended 100 years for 10 different cases of dermorphin positives during RemingtonPark’s 2012 meet. The Oklahoma Racing Commission panel suspended 80 years of the sentence, requiring 20 years to be served. Additionally, Sanchez-Munzoz’s assistant trainer Alejandro Sanchez-Munzoz was suspended 20 years and fined $10,000.
The pair’s suspensions could begin as early as February 21 barring appeal.
Originally a 100 year suspension?…..wow…..good for the Oklahoma State Racing commission, they should have left it at 100.