Month: February 2012

Weekend Recap: FOY and Risen Star

Union Rags Roars, El Padrino Outduels

Click on Picture to View FOY Replay

There’s something to say about a horse after his first step on the Kentucky Derby trail turns out to be as dominate as it was for Union Rags. The impressive win in his 3-yr-old debut will bring a lot of attention moving forward but before dive into where he’ll be seen next, let’s take a look at why his Fountain of Youth win was the most impressive victory on the derby trail so far.

Union Rags broke soundly and settled in comfortably just off the pace. Julien Leparoux got him where he wanted as he let a pair of horse’s battle for the lead in front of him. Pressing the pace in 2nd was News Pending behind the undefeated favorite Discreet Dancer who moved swiftly though the opening quarter and half-mile in fractions of 24.50 and 48.11. But the quick pace didn’t do much as Union Rags wasn’t biting on battling for the early lead. Instead he raced smart and by the time they hit the stretch Union Rags took control of the race and put the field away with ease. Click Here to view the official race results and pay outs in the 2012 Fountain of Youth Stakes.

When considering what this win tells you about Union Rags and his Kentucky Derby chances there are three important things that should not be overlooked.

  1. His Nose for Racing
  2. The FOY Field
  3. The Layoff



The Morning Line: Fountain of Youth

Union Rags Returns to Face a Pair of Undefeated Horses

We take you back to Gulfstream Park where the derby trail is heating up with the anticipation of our first real deal heavyweight bout. The showdown features a pair of unbeaten horses in Algorithms and Discreet Dancer versus Union Rags the current favorite for the 138th Kentucky Derby. The undefeated contenders are so highly thought of because they are in the hands of Todd Pletcher, the leading trainer at Gulfstream and the hottest trainer on the Kentucky Derby trail. So while the G2 $400,000 Fountain of Youth features a field of 8, there’s only three that are getting all of the attention.

Union Rags is a top class colt and he has earned the odds on favorite title on the current Kentucky Derby Future Wager Line. But those odds don’t matter in the FOY because on the morning line he is only second choice. Outside of Todd Pletcher ruling the roost at Gulfstream Park the only other plausible factor behind it is that this race is his 3-yr-old debut and first at Gulfstream Park.

So let’s rewind back to his 2-yr-old season where he dominated the attention heading into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes.  The interest in Union Rags was unavoidable after he dismantled the field in his graded stakes debut, the G2 Three Chimneys at Saratoga. The 7 ¼ romp led to the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont where he again put the field away by a sizeable margin of over 5 lengths and stamped himself as the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  (more…)

The Morning Line: Risen Star Stakes

El Padrino Ships In, Fair Grounds Contenders Await

El Padrino

Welcome back to the Fair Grounds for the Risen Star Stakes, the final tune up and prep for the Louisiana Derby on April 1. The race has drawn a solid field of 11 horses that will be contending for a piece of the Grade 2 $300,000 purse and another giant step towards qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. The 1 1/16 mile test is headlined by El Padrino versus the top finishers in the G3 LeComte Stakes here at the Fairgrounds on 1/21. In order of finish they were: Mr. Bowling, Z Dager, and Shared Property.

So let’s start right there where a trainer not named Bob Baffert is off to a hot start on the Kentucky Derby Trail. El Padrino, trained by Todd Pletcher, was shipped in from Florida and looks ready to continue where he left off in January – the winners circle at Gulfstream. That race, an Allowance Optional Claiming, was El Padrino’s 2012 debut after a lightly raced yet successful two-year old season. A couple of different factors about the horse and the win has given him even more Kentucky Derby Contender attention so let’s analyze them.  (more…)

It’s a Baffert – Bejarano Sweep!

Trainer and Jockey Take Both Southwest Divisions

First Division: Castaway

Second Division: Secret Circle

Wouldn’t it be a dream to be able to tell everyone that you had just won the same stakes race twice in the same day? Well on President’ Day 2012 that’s not a joke because that is exactly what Bob Baffert and Rafael Bejarano are saying. Foreseeable maybe but the odds were too high to be considered seriously.

Because the race drew 21 entries today was the first time since 2002 that the Southwest Stakes had to be split into two separate divisions. So the stage was set for a big day of racing and on big days, the big boys come to play.

The first division featured a field of 11 horses and Castaway your eventual winner was the last to enter the starting gate on the far outside. Following a clean break from the post Bejarano did an outstanding of job getting his horse out towards the front of the pack. As they approached the first turn Bejarano settled in just off the rail and placed Castaway in 2nd as they made their way down the back stretch. (more…)

Drill Rebounds in the San Vicente

Derby Contention Still Up in the Air

Rebounding by the slimmest of margins, only a nose, Drill earned a much-needed win after finishing out of the money in four consecutive races. Even though his narrow defeat over American Act came in the San Vicente, a Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby Prep, the decision that Drill will move on to either of these races is not one that trainer Bob Baffert is going to rush into. For the time being Drill is still a one turn horse that will need to prove to his connections over the coming weeks that he is ready to go long. (more…)

The Morning Line(s): Southwest Stakes

2 Divisions Highlight the 2012 Southwest Stakes 

2nd Division Favorite: Secret Circle

Things are getting crowded down in Hot Springs, Arkansas but Oaklawn Park was ready and the adjustments have been made. For the third time ever the Southwest Stakes will be split into two separate races in order to accommodate the 21 entrants they received for the tracks first Graded Stakes race on the 2012 Kentucky Derby prep schedule.

This marks the first time since 2002 that the Southwest Stakes was faced with this same predicament. However, since the Southwest was not upgraded to a graded stakes until 2008 this year will be the first time that graded stakes earnings will be awarded twice. Therefore, with the purse set at $250,000 for each there is plenty of horses that will come away with a better position on the graded stakes earnings list and a better chance of qualifying for the 138th Kentucky Derby.

This factor makes things much more interesting because in essence what we have is an additional derby prep that could play a huge role in the Kentucky Derby qualification process. Also it is plays to the advantage of handicappers that love playing the big races the most. Even better, if you lose the first you can break even or jump ahead with the second. Very fun.

Monday’s racing card has been updated and the two Southwest Stakes divisions will be run back to back as races 8 and 9 on the 10 race card. Let’s begin the first of the two divisions  (more…)

Daddy Nose Best by a Nose

Fantastic Finish in the El Camino Real Derby

What a stretch duel the El Camino Real Derby turned out to be. Coming off of the turf for their synthetic surface debuts, Daddy Nose Best and Lucky Chappy locked in stride for stride at the top of the lane and battled it out all the way to the wire. Although it looked almost like we would have ourselves a dead heat the photo finish results proved it was Daddy Nose Best by, yes that’s correct, A Nose.

The exciting win makes it the first for Trainer Steve Asmussen on the 2012 Derby Trail and 2nd for Jockey Julien Leparoux who also scored in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay. In other good news for the connections the victory was Steve Asmussen’s 2nd consecutive El Camino Real Derby win and second all time.

G3 El Camino Real Derby – $200,000 | 1 1/8 Mile | Tapeta | Track Fast – Time 1:50.46

  1. 1. Daddy Nose Best     $10.20    $5.40    $3.60
  2. 6. Lucky Chappy                          $4.60    $2.80
  3. 7. Handsome Mike                                     $2.80

$1 Exacta $19.40     $1 Trifecta  $73.70     $1 Superfecta  $854.40

Also ran (in order of finish) Unveiled Heat, Russian Greek, Lady of Fifty, All Squared Away, Rockinarz, Senor Rain, Cahill Chrome. Race Chart via Equibase 

Derby Contenders(more…)

The Morning Line: San Vicente Stakes

Creative Cause Returns for his 3-yr-old Debut 

Creative Cause draws away from Drill in the Norfolk

The San Vicente Stakes has long been a staple race along the derby trail and a very credible prep for the Santa Anita Derby. It has been known to include fields of many legitimate contenders as well as potential Kentucky Derby winners. The race brings a mixed bag of coverage that spreads the buzz between multiple entries but in the 2012 addition however Creative Cause owns the pre-race coverage. The main reason is because this race will likely be the kick-start to a run in the 138th Kentucky Derby.

So let’s begin with looking at why Creative Cause is so deserving of the main stage.

Creative Cause (KY): Owner Heinz Steinmann | Trainer M. Harrington – Jockey J. Rosario; Foaled 4/6/2009 by Giant’s Causeway and Dream of Summer by Siberian Summer; 5 Lifetime Starts: 3-1-1  (more…)

The Morning Line: El Camino Real Derby

Back to California

Russian Greek Wins the Cal Derby

It’s time to head back out west where a pair of unexpected yet talented winners have already emerged. First it was Out of Bounds in the G3 Sham Stakes followed by I’ll Have Another in the Robert Lewis. At 10-1 and 43-1 respectively the two horses returned to their barns in good condition and are now included the 2012 Kentucky Derby discussion. So since we’re 2 for 2 in unexpected winners make sure you check your programs twice before hitting the betting window in the El Camino Real Derby.  (more…)

Thunder Moccasin Romps in the Hutcheson

Todd Pletcher and Starlight Racing Win Again

Click on Image to View Replay

In their second start in two Kentucky Derby preps at Gulfstream Park the powerful owner trainer combination remained perfect behind an impressive 6 3/4 length victory for Thunder Moccasin. The win compliments Algorithms score in the G3 Holy Bull and keeps the duo running hot along the derby trail inside of the sunshine state.

After an early morning scratch by Ever So Lucky it brought the field down to five and eliminated the main competition. Thunder Moccasin then took over as the 1-5 favorite and his performance was right on par. Under the veteran guidance of Jockey John Velazquez, Thunder Moccasin was placed in perfect stalking position behind Il Villano. After opening fractions 23.34 and 46.89 Thunder Moccasin made his move on the pace setter near the quarter pole and put the field away in dominating fashion.

Thunder Moccasin (KY)  Owner Starlight Racing – Trainer T Pletcher – Jockey J. Velazquez. Breeder Stonewall Farm StallionsFoaled March 25, 2009 in KY by A.P. Warrior and One Stormy Mama of Storm Cat  (more…)