Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving, this would part: 2 of this week’s Horse Racing Races of the Week. After covering two races on Black Friday will be looking at six more on Saturday, highlighted by the $500,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York. The Cigar drew a field of 10 led by recent Pennsylvania Derby winner Connect
We will also be looking at several under-card races from Aqueduct on Saturday as well as a pair of two-year-old races from Churchill Downs in the Golden Rod (for fillies) and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (for colt). Both races are 8 ½ furlongs and both carry a purse of $200,000.
Saturday Nov 26, 2016
Race: 3 (12:50 PM EST Post)
Lewis Bay- gets the call here as this filly by Bernardini comes off a powerhouse score in the Turnback the Alarm Stakes in her last at Belmont on Oct 29. She was much the best in leading every step of the way. I didn’t have to watch the replay as I remember the race clearly in my feeble mind. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was sitting on a keg of dynamite at the quarter pole of that race before he cut this filly loose down the lane and drew off to win by 5+ lengths. She is versatile (so she doesn’t need the early lead to win) and she is 2 for 2 over this surface…looks best……………..Unbridled Mo– clearly poses a big threat to the top choice on paper. Well bred filly, from the “Todd Squad” barn, showed nothing in her debut but has since rattled off four straight, come from behind wins each more impressive than the next. By Uncle Mo, her speed figures are showing a definite upward trend (74, 84, 91 in her last 3 races) as well…..dangerous rival……………..Going for Broke– is kind of tough to get a good read on. Filly by Blame had won three of her first four career starts then ran a very good second behind super-star filly Songbird in the Alabama, which I though was a tremendous effort on her part. I can’t find an excuse for her disappointing effort in her next/last race (Beldame Stakes…. don’t blame the wet track, she has won over it before) and her form looks to be on the ever so slight decline. Like I said, tough to get a read on this one………………Honorable Mentions: Big Mara– comes off a titanic win vs. NYSBs in her last at Belmont where she was “wrapped up” in the final yards. Filly by Big Brown will be stepping up in class big time here but will get some money and attention from me regardless as a few years ago I owed part of her half-sister, who was the prettiest and probably the “fastest” horse I ever owned (Princess Mara) …………..Verve’s Tale– is remarkably consistent but it took her 8 tries to break her maiden….”light bulb angle?”
Race: 6 (2:20 Pm EST Post)
Miss Sky Warrior– broke her maiden at Parx by a wide margin after completely missing the break two starts back. Filly by First Samurai came back to win the Grade: 3 Tempted (over this surface) in her last, making her the only graded stakes winner in this field. Interesting to note in that race, she came home on the wrong lead, yet still won. If she “figures things out” in this spot, she should win it……….Libby’s Tail– set a fast early pace in the Grade: 1 Frizette in her last and got beat a head to Yellow Agate, who went off as one of the favorites in the 2016 BC Filly race. Filly by Tiz Wonderful will have to negotiate another furlong here but looks to be the one to catch……………..Bonita Bianca– was visually impressive in winning both her career starts in similar fashion (coming from well back with big, wide, sweeping moves to the lead at the head of the stretch). Curlin filly, from the Rudy Rodriguez barn, steps up in class and stretches out another furlong but no surprise here if she is coming hard again down the lane. “I hope she runs the way she did at Belmont,” Rodriguez said. “They’re babies, so you don’t know. The distance will be a challenge for all them, because there’s a big difference between a mile and a mile-and-an-eighth.”………………Honorable Mentions: Jamyson ‘n Ginger– “bounced” as expected in the BC Filly Juvenile in her last but I still thought she ran well in that spot. Filly by Bernardini, and the third entrant from the Rudy Rodriguez barn in this race, closes and the extra distance should only help her…..could better this rating, especially with the fact that there might be a fast early pace here……………….Ladies Day– responded to first time Lasix (and first time fast track) in a huge way as she broke her maiden by a wide margin….steps up and stretches out however.
Race: 8 (3:20 PM EST Post)
Takaful- blew out of the gate and ran his opponents off their feet in his debut. Still another by Bernardini, this colt ripped fractions of :21.4 and :44.4 but still had plenty of “gas” left in the tank to open up down the lane to win by eight lengths while completing the 6 ½ furlong race in 1:15.4. He will be stepping up in class big time and stretching out a long way in distance and, although I generally go against horses in these situations, this guy will be hard to go against after such an impressive debut. “It’s a big step up from a maiden to a grade II and it’s a big step up from 6 1/2 [furlongs] to a mile-and-an-eighth, but he’s certainly a grade II type,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “The distance is a little bit of a concern but we don’t have a lot of options, so we’re going to give it a go. We’ve missed out on a [longer] prep, but we can’t do anything about that, so we’re going to hope for the best.”…………No Dozing– came from behind to win his first two races then finished a very good third behind probable 2016 two-year-old colt champion Classic Empire after a horrendous trip (bumped at the start and again down the backstretch) in the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland in his last. If Takaful stubs his toes, I except this guy to win easily and is a “must use” on your tickets…………………….Mo Town– loomed boldly at the quarter pole yet finished second in his debut before romping maidens over a muddy track in his last. Powerhouse ownership group and sire, this horse should be sitting on another big race especially with that big bullet work in tow. Still another who will be trying two turns for the first time but I don’t expect him to have any problems by the way he finished his last race. “I don’t think that two turns will be an issue for our horse at all,” said trainer Tony Dutrow. “I don’t even think about that because I just don’t feel like there’s anything to worry about in that regard. To this day, none of us know how good of a horse he is or how nice of horse he is, but, since February, when you could see him training, you could feel like he’s a better kind of horse. Around the barn and anywhere else, he doesn’t bring attention to himself. But on the racetrack, he’s impressive and always has been.”…………Honorable Mentions: Hookup– came from behind to thrash maidens in his racing debut. Colt by Union Rags scored a solid 80 speed figure that day and if he improves off of that race, and I suspect he will, he could loom large here……………You’re to Blame– has improved with each and every race for trainer Chad Brown culminating with a very nice 4 wide bid to the lead at the quarter pole and won by a ½ length. $400,000 Distorted Humor colt is another that, if he continues to improve, he might run well in this spot…………………..Tellmeafookystory- is still another who has improved leaps and bounds since a) being stretched out to two turns and b) being moved to the powerhouse Todd Pletcher barn. Colt by Tale of Ekati will be trying “open” company for the first time however.
Race: 10 (4:20 PM EST Post)
1) Connect– heads a three headed monster sort of speak for trainer Chad Brown.
This colt by Curlin is a three year old facing elders (for the first time) but he has done nothing but get better with each race and train well in the mornings.
In fact, if you draw a line through his Travers effort at Saratoga (1 ¼ miles was too long and was facing the freakish Arrogate, who no-one was beating), you’ll see a four race win streak with steadily climbing speed figures as well.
I loved the way he took command of the Penn Derby at the quarter pole and really dug in hard when Gun Runner came to him in the stretch drive…shows me courage.
A talented horse already, one that is still improving “and” has guts, will get the call from me every time.
2) Economic Model– is Chad Brown entrant #2.
It appears to me that a flat mile hits this gorgeous three year old animal right between the eyes as both of his starts at 8 furlongs were very good (win and close second)
But it’s his last two races that really stick out to me.
Colt by Flatter was off the early pace in the seven furlong Aug 27 King’s Bishop two starts back but rallied well down the stretch to get beaten less than 4 lengths to possible sprint champion Defrong. About two months later, he did something similar (lay off the early pace and finish well) except this time it was behind the much older and hard knocking Stallwalkin’ Dude again at seven furlongs.
Six of seven on the board this year, looks next best.
3) Threefiveindia– failed miserably at his one and try over seven furlongs almost 14 months ago but I’m not going to hold that against him and write him off as just a very good sprinter…..just yet.
Chestnut colt by Street Boss legitimate excuses (stumbled at the start of one and also faced Stallwalkin Dude in the other) in his last two and won convincingly in his two prior to that. Most importantly, he wasn’t “leveling out” towards the end of any his 4 races this year.
Therefore, I think he lays off the pace, comes with a run down the lane to grab a piece of the purse without the distance being an issue….and yes, I think Chad Brown had a chance to “sweep” this race.
Because of Thanksgiving I’m doing these races a little earlier than normal so I didn’t see the morning line odds as of this writing. That said, Anchor Down should be one of the favorites both on ML and at post-time but I’m going to try to beat him in this spot. Incredibly beautiful roan by Tapit has major speed (as demonstrated with him tour de force win in the Kelso his last time out) and the rail which is always a dangerous combination. This is clearly his best distance also. “He’s got good tactical speed and it seems like he’s proven that a one-turn mile is his favorite trip,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “That’s why we decided to wait for the Cigar Mile instead of taking him to the Breeders’ Cup.” But what I’ve notice about this guy was he seems to have a hard time putting wins back to back. He always seems to “bounce” slightly after a big effort and his last race was his biggest efforts of his career……..Diving Rod’s– claim to fame was coming third behind the great American Pharoah in the 2015 Preakness Stakes. He had an ok year after that but went on the sidelines for over a year but come back running for sure. 11 of 12 career starts on the board and his last race (chasing the fleet Noble Bird) was one of the best of his career……………….Ocean Knight is consistent also as his 8 on the finishes out of 9 career starts record would indicate, and Mylute, a late runner who picks up checks here and there, are worth mentioning.
Saturday Nov 26, 2016
Race: 9 (4:57PM EST Post)
Golden Rod Stakes
Daddy’s Lil Darling– has a strong late kick that she used to win the Grade: 2 Pocahontas, and excellent second in the Grade:1 Alcibides and, after a horrendous trip in the BC Juvenile Filly, fourth, beaten just four lengths. Good looking filly is clearly the most accomplished horse in the race, has been facing better than these and return to the surface she normally trains on. “She is a tough filly and she has traveled well,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “We’re pleased at how well she’s bounced back and expect her to do well back at her home course.”……………Lovely Bernadette– finshed third in her (sythetic) racing debut but has fired off three straight come from behind wins since, including winning a stakes race over the Churchill surface in her last. In doing so, this daughter of Wilburn moved to 2 for 2 over this track…monster back to back bullet works in tow……big threat………China Grove– was closing fast, late at shorter distances (6 ½ furlongs and one mile) behind Lovely Bernadette in her last two races….logical contender with still another half of a furlong for her to work with in this spot……….Fun- chase Sweet Loretta twice in graded stakes races in NY and finished right behind the top choice in the aforementioned Alcibides in her last three races…..belongs in here………Honorable Mentions: Ever So Clever– was absolutely flying at the top choice late in the Pocahontos Stakes but came up a half of a length short. Daughter of Medaglia d’ Oro then came back and beat “non winners of one” easily….improving and now has a possible confidence building win in her back pocket……….Farrell– drew on even terms with Lovely Bernadette at the top of the stretch in her last but wound up giving ground grudgingly late. Daughter of Malibu Moon won her prior race by 5 and is improving.
Race: 11 (5:56 PM EST Post)
Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
The way Mastery created a backstretch buzz for trainer Bob Baffert at Del Mar/Santa Anita last week, McCraken created that same buzz in his first two starts for trainer Ian Wilkes at Churchill Downs. Colt by Ghostzapper absolutely exploded in the last furlong of his debut back on Oct 2 to win by 2+ lengths. Wilkes spins him around and drops him in a stakes race where he comes with avisually impressive seven wide run at the top of the stretch and opens up 3 plus in deep stretch. This handsome bay improved his speed figure 18 point from his first start to his second and I, for one, want to see more of him………….Uncontested– did his best impersonation of Takaful (Remsen Stakes) in his debut. By Tiz Wonderful, this colt (slightly) missed the break but quickly sprinted to the lead and cut serious early fractions, yet opened up down the lane to win by a half a dozen lengths. The Wayne “Cat” trainee stopped the clock in 1:15.4 for 6 ½ furlongs that day and scored a strong 89 speed figure in the process……clearly looks next best………………..Wild Shot– led the Grade: 1 Breeders Futurity at Keeneland until about the five-sixteenths pole before coughing up the lead to probable champion Classic Empire. I thought this colt ran huge in that race as he was only beaten 4 lengths in the end. By up and coming sire Trappe Shot, his speed figures jumped 16 (65 to 81) points in that race, which just so happened to be his first two turn endeavor….best of the rest in here………Honorable Mentions: Romeo O Romeo– has never finished off the board in four career starts with three of them coming in stakes races. Interesting that he’ll be making his “dirt” debut in career stat #5…………Han Sense– has run admirably in three stakes races as well. Gray colt by Hansen stumbled badly at the start of the Grade: 2 Nashua in NY in his last or I think he would have finished a lot better….could be “lying in the weeds” here