Horse Racing: A Closer Look at the 2013 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct

In this week’s Horse Racing Race of the Week, we will be taking a closer look at the 2013 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, New York where Hyper has been installed as the tepid 5/2 morning line favorite. The turf marathon (11 furlong) event drew a full field of 13 with one Main Track Only entrant.

I probably appreciate Red Smith, the man, a little more than the average person. Smith was sport writer in the 50’s and the 60’s and was slowly gathering momentum (readers) thru the years. But it wasn’t until he joined the New York Herald Tribune that his column really took off.

When that paper folded in 1966, he became a freelance writer. He joined The New York Times in 1971 and his reputation skyrocketed from there on and he secured himself as one of the best writers in America then and ever.

Smith wrote of several sports, Baseball, Football, Boxing and, of course, Horse Racing and mastered them all.

His writings were deep, insightful, humorous and riveting.

In my mind though Smith will always stand out for one thing. One time while being interviewed back in the 70’s another writer asked him where he learn to write so well. Smith answered:  ”Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” …well said Mr. Smith, I, for one, can understand that statement completely.

Run every year (under a few different names) since 1960, the Red Smith boasts a pretty impressive list of past winners including Tiller (1978), Waya (1979), Match The Hatch (1981), Highland Blade (1982), the awesome Theatrical (1987), the veteran Evening Attire (2002) and recent back to back winner Boisterous (2011 and 2012).

 

Aqueduct – Saturday, November 16, 2013

Race 7 – 3:14 PM    

Red Smith Handicap (Grade: 3)

Purse $250,000

For Three Year Olds and Upward

One and Three Eighth Miles (Turf)

 

P#

PP

Horse

A/S

Med

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

M/L

1 1 Artic North 4/G L J L Ortiz 113 P Miller

20/1

2 2 Imagining 5/H L J Rosario 118 C R McGaughey

7/2

3 3 Exclusive Strike 6/G L J Lezcano 116 J Servis

12/1

4 4 Slip and Drive 5/G L A Castellano, 115 M Robertson

30/1

5 5 Sky Blazer 5/G L R Maragh 116 B Tagg

6/1

6 6 Tannery 4/F L A O Solis 116 A E Goldberg

5/1

7 7 Sandyinthesun 6/G L J A Davis 113 R G Davis

50/1

8 8 Hangover Kid 5/H L I Ortiz, Jr. 116 J Servis

20/1

9 9 Howe Great 4/C L C H Velasquez 116 R C Mettee

8/1

10 10 Mission Approved 9/H L C C Lopez 116 N Chatterpaul

30/1

11 11 Hyper 6/H L J Castellano 120 C C Brown

5/2

12 12 Nutello 4/C   L Saez 118 H G Motion

15/1

13 13 Quick Casablanca 5/H L J Alvarado 116 C Clement

15/1

14 14 Percussion (MTO) 5/G L TBD 120 T A Pletcher

6/5

 

Analysis

 

1) Hyper- has had an excellent 2013 campaign as his 8-3-3-2 record would indicate and his races just keep getting better and better.

His last three races include a pair of come from behind wins in New York (The John’s Call Stakes and the Grade: 2 Bowling Green Handicap) and an enormous effort (at 7-1) in the $1 million, Grade:1 Canadian International at Woodbine.

In the International, he was in eighth position early but was put into an all out drive by jockey Joel Rosario and almost ran down the winner (the talented Joshua Tree), coming up just a half length short.

“(Trainer) Chad (Brown) has had him for so long, and he’s always been a nice horse to train,” said assistant trainer Cherie DeVaux. “With his age, he has been getting better. What’s so enjoyable about watching him run is that he seems to get better every time. He always finds a way to find a little more, and as he’s gotten older he keeps finding ways to step up.”

 

2) Tannery- is a filly taking on the boys here but she appears to be coming into this race in career best form off three bang up races in a row.

Starting with the Aug 17 race (The Grade: 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga) where she was 11th of 12 in the early going and was 3 or 4 wide on all the turns, plus she went an almost unheard of 7 wide on the turn for home, yet she still came with a late run to finish fourth beaten less than three lengths for all the money.

She followed that race up with another huge effort vs. Laughing in the (Grade:1) Flower Bowl Invitational (Belmont, Sept 13). In that race, she was seventh down the back side and once again having to come (5) wide on the turn for home she almost gunned down the winner late. (She was second to Laughing beaten just a half length)

Those two races weren’t even her most impressive ones. Her last race, the E.P Taylor at Woodbine, really stands out when she came from dead last, and at one point almost 10 lengths behind, to engage in a pitched stretch battle for the lead with Fitful Skies (France) and wound up getting her head in front at the wire.

“She’s a really good filly who hasn’t done a whole lot wrong; she’s fired every time,” said trainer Alan Goldberg. “I think she could have been in the top three in the Sword Dancer with a little better trip. Both she and Laughing are talented, but while Laughing can be a bit worrisome and temperamental, this filly is much more laid back. You can put her on a van, race her, bring her home—she’ll do anything.”

Filly or not, this horse poses an immense threat and is a “must use” in any exotics betting scenario.

 

3) Exclusive Strike- aside from “mailing it in” in the Grade:1 Sword Dancer (9th, beaten 7 1/4 lengths), this now 6 year old gelding by Smart Strike has been a model of consistency.

He shows 16 on the board finishes in 19 races over the past 2 years including a good late running third in the Grade: 1 Man O’ War (July 13) and another good late running third in his last (The Bowl Game, Oct 21).

He likes the (marathon) distance as his 4-1-1-1 record would indicate and he seems to be ok with the turf surface at the Big A (He recorded a win over it in the past).

Not quite sure what those 12-1 morning line odds are all about, I mean they seem a little high to me which, in turn, means there is some good value here.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Howe Great shows two seconds and two close up thirds in his last four which were all Grade: 3 races in New York and New Jersey. As I looked thru his past performances, he’s really only run one bad race all year (which was expected being it was his 2013 racing debut and was coming off a 4 month layoff). He has some “back class” and I won’t be totally shocked if he runs big on Saturday afternoon. Sky Blazer is 0 for 2013 and shows just 4 wins in 21 career starts but is another who really hasn’t run a bad race all year (really, he hasn’t run a bad race since mid-2012) and again, I wouldn’t be shocked if he, too, runs well in this spot.

 

Record: 18-53 = 34%

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 Little Bets N’ Pieces

 

**** 2013 Belmont and Jim Dandy Stakes winner Palace Malice arrived in Aiken, S.C., last Friday and will begin preparing for his 2014 racing debut in the March 29 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course.

According to owner Dogwood Stables, Palace Malice will remain there for two months while in the care of trainer Brad Stauffer before being shipped back to trainer Todd Pletcher at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida in early January.

“He ran just about every month, and thrived on it,” Dogwood president Cot Campbell said. “He’s a throwback to old time campaigners. His physical exam at Rood and Riddle in Lexington was clean following his unplaced Breeders’ Cup Classic run. This is a tribute to a tough horse and a fine trainer in Todd Pletcher.”

“The Donn at Gulfstream comes up too quick but Todd agreed that the New Orleans race at the end of March would be logical,” Campbell added.

Palace Malice

Palace Malice

**** Two-time Cartier Horse of the Year Frankel will stand the 2014 breeding season at Khalid Abdullah’s Manor Stud near Newmarket, England, for the same £125,000 (U.S. $200,085) fee charged in his first year at stud.

 

The great Frankel's 2014 stud fee will remain the same as 2013's.

The great Frankel’s 2014 stud fee will remain the same as 2013′s.

 

**** Speaking of stud fees, Coolmore’s all star cast of stallions fees has been announced (along with last year’s fees in parenthesis)

Cape Blanco- $15,000 ($17,500)
Dunkirk-  $15,000 ($10,000)
Fusaichi Pegasus- $7,500 ($7,500)
Giant’s Causeway-  $85,000 ($85,000)
Lookin At Lucky- $15,000 ($25,000)
Majestic Warrior- $22,500 ($12,500)
Munnings- $10,000 ($10,000)
Scat Daddy- $30,000 ($30,000)
Shanghai Bobby- $20,000 (new in 2014)
Stay Thirsty- $15,000 ($20,000)
Tale of the Cat- $25,000 ($25,000)
Thunder Gulch- $10,000 ($10,000)
Uncle Mo- $27,500 ($35,000)
Verrazano-TBD (new in 2014)

Dunkirk is a steal for 15 grand if you ask me, I think he’s going to be a real good sire in the future (If he isn’t already)….Lookin’ at Lucky looks like a good deal…..curious to see what Verrazano’s initial fee will be.

Dunkirk during his racing days

Dunkirk during his racing days

 

**** Groupie Doll, acquired by Mandy Pope’s Whispering Hill Farm last Wednesday at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, will remain in training for the time being with her trainer Buff Bradley.

“I’m very excited,” said Bradley. “My whole team is excited. It means so much to all of us to be able to race this champion again.”

Pope, who spent $3.1 million on the now two time Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner, said she would now be pointed for the Cigar Mile Nov. 30 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“When I purchased Groupie Doll, my sole intention was for her to be retired and become a mom,” Pope said. “However, after spending time with her and speaking with her previous connections, I felt that she may still want to run a few more races”. 

“I asked Dr. Larry Bramlage go over her from her nose to her tail and he felt there was no reason for her career to end now,” Pope added. “Everyone who has been around Groupie Doll says she is rounding into the best form of her career and I feel the racing public deserves to see superstars run so long as they are happy and 100% sound.”

She should meet a strong field in the Cigar Mile including Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents.

Thanks for Reading…

 

Groupie Doll

Groupie Doll