Horse Racing: A Closer Look at the 2014 Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park

As we kick off the 2014 Horse Racing season, and every race horse on the planet officially turns another year older, what better way to start out the year than a race for newly turned three year olds, with early 2014 Kentucky Derby hopes, than in the 2014 Spectacular Bid Stakes going six furlongs at GulfstreamPark in Hallandale, Florida? A field of eight will go post-ward Saturday afternoon with six of the eight entered at 8-1 or less on the morning line…talk about a wide open race!

Just a quick note before we get into that race, I was originally going to use the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, being it was a Grade: 2 race and was worth double the Spectacular Bid Stakes purse, but with the inclement weather due in the northeast this weekend I figured this race had a much better chance of actually being run.

The Spectacular Bid Stakes is the first in a long line of Kentucky Derby prep races run at Gulfstream this winter and spring with the Derby as the ultimate goal. In order the races that follow the Spectacular Bid include The Holy Bull Stakes, The Hutcheson, The Fountain of Youth Stakes, The Swale Stakes, and The Florida Derby.

Spectacular Bid himself really needs to introduction and is the greatest horse I’ve ever seen run live….period….end of sentence.

The accolades are long and strong for the wickedly fast gray horse including winning an astounding 26 of 30 races, The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and, if not for a freak injury and perhaps the worst ride in the history of the sport, (even worse than the rides the great Pat Day gave to Easy Goer in the 1989 Preakness and the 1989 BC Classic) he should have been the third Triple Crown winner in a row in 1979.

He set track records at various distances (7 furlongs, 1 mile, 1¼ miles, and twice at 1⅛ miles) and at various ages. He was champion two year old colt in 1978, champion thre year old colt in 1979, and in 1980, while racing as a four-year-old, “The Bid” was undefeated in nine races and was named champion older horse and Horse of the Year as well.

Spectacular Bid concluded his career with a walkover, (the last of it’s kind) in the Woodward Stakes on September 20, 1980, at Belmont, covering the 1¼ miles in 2:02.4.

To this day, I’m not sure what the great Bill Shoemaker was thinking in the Woodward race. I mean, it’s a walk over, why on earth would you go 10 furlongs in 2:02.4 on a horse that had a left front ankle that was troublesome through out his career? A walk-over is when noone bothers showing up to challenge you, which in turn, means whether it takes you 2 minutes and 2 seconds or 2 weeks and 2 days….it doesn’t matter.

The Bid came out of the walk over with that ankle barking at him and, later on, a plan to run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup had to be aborted.

Trainer Buddy Delp was furious with Shoemaker after the race, but it didn’t really matter…The Bid was retired shortly thereafter, was syndicated for a then record price of $22 million and was sent to Claiborne Farms in Kentucky to stand next to (and across the shedrow) from none other than Secretariat himself.

Although just 10 seconds long, I found this classic video on youtube. That’s The Bid and Secretariat in their neighboring paddocks.

The Blood-Horse ranked Spectacular Bid at #10 in the Top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century (non-sense, he was top 6 or 8 in my estimation) and was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1982.

 

Gulfstream ParkSaturday, January 4, 2014

Race 10 – 5:03 PM    

Spectacular Bid Stakes

Purse $100,000

For Three Year Olds

Six Furlongs

 

P#

PP

Horse

A/S

Med

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

M/L

1 1 Just Call Kenny 3/C L J Bravo 116 P B McBurney

15/1

2 2 Trail Blaze 3/C L J Lezcano 116 T A Pletcher

3/1

3 3 Corfu 3/C L J Castellano 122 T A Pletcher

5/2

4 4 C. Zee 3/C L E J Zayas 116 S I Gold

6/1

5 5 Cool Cowboy 3/C L E E Perez 120 D Bennett

12/1

6 6 Giancarlo 3/C L E Trujillo 116 E Loza, Jr.

8/1

7 7 Hollywood Talent 3/C L J Rosario 116 W A Ward

4/1

8 8 Elusive Blueboy 3/C L J L Alvarez 120 R E Nicks

    5/1

 

Analysis:

1) Elusive Blueboy- is just 1 ½ lengths away from being unbeaten in three lifetime starts.

He smashed maiden claimers in his career debut on Aug 17, then took almost 2 months off and led from the start to deep stretch before tiring and finishing second in an allowance non-winners of one on Oct. 13.

He then came back to win a $50,000 stakes race at Calder in his last start (Nov 16) when regular rider Jose Alvarez took him just off the pace early. He laid second all the way around before taking command at the quarter pole and “kicked clear” down the lane.

The rating tactics Alvarez used in that race look like the perfect tactics to use again in this race too as this race is loaded with early speed and with this colt by Bluegrass Cat having to break from the extreme outside.

Lastly, big work on Dec 15 (5F- :59 flat) has to grab your attention.

 

2) Cool Cowboy- is cross entered here and in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

If he runs in this spot, this already well traveled colt by Kodiak Kowboy should be a menace with his 5-3-1-0 record and coming into this race off back to back, wire to wire, by daylight scores vs. high priced optional claimers (won by 3) and the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes (won by 3 1/2).

He’ll be a very heavy favorite in the Pasco, so I do expect his to run there (much easier field), but if they do run him in this race, he looms a dangerous foe.

 

3) Trail Blaze- came from off the pace to score by almost 5 lengths vs. Maiden Special Weights in his racing debut in NY for trainer Todd Pletcher on Nov 20.

Once again I anticipate a very strong early pace which, in turn, could set this colt by Indian Charlie up to mow them down late again.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Giancarlo ran a strong second in his racing debut but came back to wallop maidens in his second start (won by almost 7) while scoring an enormous speed figure…could easily better this rating. Corfu is the 5/2 morning line favorite but, like in last week’s preview, I find the favoritism extremely vulnerable. He won the Grade: 2 Saratoga Special by a nose last summer after setting a blistering early pace, but doesn’t seem to be the same horse since. Yes, he raced against some of the elite two year olds in the following races but he clearly shortened stride late in each of them. I see why he is listed as the favorite…this looks like a pretty serious drop in class and it is. However, a “closer look” shows me that last race at Laurel (The J.F. Lewis III, Nov 16)) was also a significant drop in class yet once again, he was cooked by the time turned into the stretch and wound up finishing a well beaten 5th. I was successful last week playing against a shaky favorite and I see a similar scenario here. C. Zee has running lines similar to Giancarlo (with lower speed figures) as he was beaten a nose in his debut but came back 3 months later to win by 3 while coming from off the pace….with as much early speed entered in this race? Any horse that comes from off the pace has a shot.

2014 Record: 0-0 = 0%

2013 Record: 20-59 = 34%

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Little Bets N’ Pieces:

**** Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky has purchased 50% of probable 2013 champion three year old colt Will Take Charge (current owner Willis Horton retains the other 50%), the farm announced this past Wednesday  

“Will Take Charge is the kind of horse we all dream of having in the stallion barn because he’s the complete package in every way,” said Case Clay, president of Three Chimneys. “Being a part of a horse of this magnitude is a step in an exciting new direction for Three Chimneys, and we’re thrilled to be able to race him with Mr. Horton in 2014.”

“I can’t think of a better result,” Horton said. “This deal allows me to enjoy racing Will Take Charge another year, and secures a wonderful home for him when he’s retired. Will Take Charge is the horse of a lifetime, and 2014 will hopefully be exciting for me, for Three Chimneys, and for the fans.”

Probable 2013 three year old champion Will Take Charge will be heading to Three Chimneys at the conclusion of his racing career

Probable 2013 three year old champion Will Take Charge will be heading to Three Chimneys at the conclusion of his racing career

**** Probable 2013 two year old colt champion New Years Day  will stand the 2014 breeding season at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms for a fee of $12,500 live foal (stands and nurses) Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm announced, in what I’m sure was a planned marketing ploy, on  New Years Day 2014.

New Year’s Day exhibited all of the qualities you would look for in a future leading sire, namely sire power, pedigree, performance and exceptional good looks which will assure he attracts the right kind of mares to develop into the sire he seems destined to become. At this stud fee level, we expect him to be very popular” said John G. Sikura, Hill ‘n’ Dale president.

The appropriately named New Years Day

The appropriately named New Years Day

**** Itsmyluckyday, runner-up in both the Florida Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2013 last year, went an easy three furlongs in 36 seconds flat this past Tuesday at Palm Meadows. It was the fastest of 33 horses at the distance.
 
“He looks like a million dollars,” said trainer Eddie Plesa, “He came out of the work 110 percent. He’s anxious, no question about it. I just have to make sure I have enough patience for the both of us.”

“I like the way he did what he did,” Plesa added. “He did it in hand, he did it willfully, and he did it without being asked. He just really couldn’t be doing any better.

“I didn’t expect it (to be that fast), but it didn’t surprise me. He’s just that kind of horse, and he’s anxious. He’s a good-feeling horse that’s happy to be out on the racetrack doing what he was bred to do. It’s very gratifying to see the way this time off has healed him.”

Plesa said he will keep Itsmyluckyday on a once a week work schedule leading up to his 4-year-old debut with the most likely target being the $100,000 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park March 29.

Itsmyluckyday is on the comeback trail

Itsmyluckyday is on the comeback trail

Thanks for reading…