Well it took us a few days but here’s our recap of the Saturday Special. Again, the good, the bad and the ugly from a big day of racing around the world.
We wrote: Cheltenham clues are offered at Sandown and Derby clues are presented at Tampa Bay Downs. In between, they’re going 2 miles at Gulfstream in the H. Allen Jerkens and all kinds of distances at Santa Anita. Enjoy another Saturday Special.
– We wrote: Meydan. Race 1. 6:00 a.m. Get up early and watch dirt racing. Fourteen runners contest the first, a maiden dirt going 1 mile. The dirt experiment – is it an experiment? – continues. Sons of Authorized, Dansili, Shirocco and Teofilo take on sons of A.P. Indy, Kingmambo, Hard Spun and Proud Citizen. Seems incongruent.
What happened? The son of A.P. Indy beat the son of Authorized. Of course. American-bred Aslan, who finished second to King Cyrus, Lunar Rover and Tout while racing for Tom Albertrani and Darley in America, won easily.
– We wrote: Sandown. Race 1. 7:40. Pennsylvania-bred Lil Rockerfeller makes his second start over hurdles. By Hard Spun out of a Mt. Livermore mare, don’t see many of like that going 2 miles on soft ground in England. He’s a half brother to Dark Cheetah, Mogador and others.
What happened: Lil Rockerfeller finished third, flattening out a bit at the end in his second hurdle start. Tab him for later as the ground improves in England.
– We wrote: Sandown. Race 2. 8:15. Cheltenham clues on the table here with the likes of Jollyallan and Bristol De Mai squaring off. Just four horses, but nice horses. Jollyallan is 16-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle while Bristol De Mei goes 8-1 for the Triumph Hurdle in March.
What happened: Four-horse field turned into a three-horse race, which turned into a two-horse scrap, which turned into a one-horse finish as Garde La Victoire gamely turned away Jollyallan. Both signified talent and moxie for Cheltenham. Favorite Bristol De Mai folded tamely.
– We wrote: Fairyhouse. Race 3. 8:55. Morning Run puts her undefeated mark on the line in the Solerina Novice Hurdle for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins…who else?
What happened: What do you think happened? Morning Run led wire-to-wire to best stablemate Lyrical Theatre. The winner was cut to 7-1 for the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham while the runner-up is offered 20-1.
– We wrote: Ffos Las. Race 3. 9:05. Puffin Billy fell in a heap on his last try over fences, the world gasped. He got up. Likable 7-year-old reverts to hurdling, whew, taking on a big field in the Welsh Champion Hurdle – not quite the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle, but a good race nonetheless.
What happened: Puffin Billy never traveled in the deep ground. Silsol relished the grueling conditions, staying on like a mountain climber in the last push up Everest.
We wrote: Sandown. Race 4. 9:25. Another short but strong field line for the Grade 1 novices’ chase. Grumeti, Irish Saint, Champagne West, Splash Of Ginge and Gitane Du Berlais. All of them could show up in March. Willie Mullins travels with the Gitane Du Berlais and tabs Daryl Jacob for the ride.
What happened: Mullins knows when to travel, Gitane Du Berlais paid for the ferry ride and then some with a skip around Sandown.
– We wrote: Kenilworth. Race 8. 9:45. The Group 1 J&B Met lured six-time winner Legislate, but word is he’ll scratch. Futura topped that foe in Jan. 10 Queen’s Plate and is back again. Ding, ding, ding.
What happened: Futura earned an automatic birth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, scoring as the 2-1 second choice. Legislate, South Africa’s reigning Horse of the Year did, indeed, scratch.
– We wrote: Fairyhouse. Race 5. 10:05. Laurel Park. Yes, Laurel Park goes to the post. Mike Gathagan should have a hunch bet on his last weekend on the job.
What happened: We hope Gathagan did not play his hunch.
– We wrote: Sandown. Race 6. 10:35. Betfred Masters Handicap Chase. Like seeing old friends for lunch, Hadrian’s Approach, Just A Par, Cantlow…go 3 miles.
What happened: Le Reve won, Hadrian’s Approach pulled up and our other friends scratched.
– We wrote: Wetherby. Race 5. 10:55. One thing about England, there is a race for every horse. Our old friend Junior returns in an open hunters’ chase. A winner at Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival, he takes on five opponents fresh off a point-to-point win. The enigmatic 12-year-olds looked disdainful as he rode out a 14-race losing last season. For his sake, we hope he’s refreshed.
What happened. He’s not refreshed. We rarely send out requests, but, wow we’d like to see our old friend retired.
– We wrote: Tampa Bay Downs. Race 2. 12:50 p.m. We say it every week, nothing like a maiden at Tampa. Pletcher (two), McLaughlin, Zito, Harty…Stonestreet (two), Godolphin, Sumaya US, Calumet…Tapit, Tiznow, Medaglia d’Oro (two), Hard Spun, Eskendereya.
What happened: Godolphin continued its scourge at Tampa Bay Downs. Harty wired McLaughlin, Pletcher (two) and Zito.
– We wrote: Gulfstream Park. Race 5. 2:28. Fishing makes her debut for Wesley Ward. Daughter of Dansili cost 110,000 Euros at Arqana in 2013. Veteran jockey Mario Pino continues his busman’s winter.
What happened: Fishing scratched. Makes sense as Ward won it with first-time starter Asia. Ward bred the daughter of Lookin At Lucky in Florida and co-owns her with Mrs. Paul Shanahan.
– We wrote: Laurel Park. Race 6. 2:58. Fair Hill-based Tim Woolley unveils I’m Watching You for Bill Fossett’s Rider’s Up Farm. Tim Keefe’s Causeworthy tries to snap a three-race streak of thirds. He’s 2/5 on the morning line.
What happened: Causeworthy snapped the streak, breaking his maiden in his fourth try since being purchased at Fasig-Tipton’s July horses-in-training sale by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds. I’m Watching You beat one.
– We wrote: Turf Paradise. Race 3. 3:53. Damn, don’t you want this trophy on your mantle? The Chuck N Luck. Grand Full Moon makes turf debut in the $25,000 stakes.
What happened: Guess it gets cold in Arizona, card was cancelled.
– We wrote: Parx Racing. Race 9. 4:01. Everything Lovely drops back to allowance foes after finishing third in the Maryland Juvenile Fillies in December at Laurel. Bernie Houghton counters with Rockin Jojo, fresh off a score in the Blue Mountain Juvenile at Penn National.
What happened: It gets cold in Pennsylvania, too. Parx hosted four races and cancelled.
– We wrote: Tampa Bay. Race 9. 4:20. Irish Jasper, who made her debut for a $25,000 maiden claiming tag in October at Parx, seeks her fourth win for Derek Ryan and Metro Thoroughbreds in the Suncoast.
What happened: Include Betty nailed Huasca in the final stride for Brereton Jones and Tim Thornton. Bred by Jones and Lavin Bloodstock, the daughter of Include exited a maiden win to earn her first stakes score. Irish Jasper beat one.
– We wrote: Gulfstream. Race 9. 4:34. The H. Allen Jerkens. Man, I hope the Form corrects the spelling of the early version…2 miles on the turf named after the legend. TIHR’s bloodstock division tried to buy Turkish, Unitarian and Desvelo, better box the tri.
What happened: Unitarian routed his rivals in the 2-mile stakes. Just think if Pletcher used one of Jerkens’ stamina-inducing gallops like he used on Admiral Vee, turning the sprinting claimer into a routing stakes winner.
– We wrote: Tampa Bay. Race 10. 4:50. The Lambholm South Endeavor. Testa Rossi makes her sixth start for Chad Brown, Rosalind makes her first for Brown. Both have to contend with Principessa Ava for Jonathan Sheppard and KMSN Stable and I’m Already Sexy for Wayne Catalano and Hit the Board Stable. And, what the hell, maybe Medea for Tres Abbott and Cornerstone Thoroughbreds. Some race.
What happened: Stewards got involved, disqualifying Hard Not To Like, who was making her first start for Christophe Clement, and handing the race to Testa Rossi. Principessa Ava ran well to be fourth while Medea finished fifth and I’m Already Sexy finished seventh. Rosalind scratched.
– We wrote: Turf Paradise. Race 6. 5:18. Anybody every search for jumpers in Arizona? Starter stakes stretches 1 5/8 miles.
What happened: The routers stayed in the barn.
– We wrote: Tampa Bay. Race 11. 5:20. Here goes…the Sam F. Davis offers one of the first lily pads across the river leading to the Kentucky Derby. Twelve take tepid steps in that direction.
What happened: Wow, did you see Ocean Knight? The bettors did, sending the strapping son of Curlin off as the favorite. He obliged, running down Divining Rod to win by a neck.
Watch the Sam F. Davis.
– We wrote: Gulfstream. Race 11. 5:38. Kitten In May tried the jumps – failing to threaten the likes of Where’s The Beef, Street Fight and Wait Outside. Ramsey homebred has two seconds on the Gulfstream turf this winter.
What happened: Kitten In May looked like a jumper, rallying to finish sixth.
– We wrote: Oaklawn Park. Race 8. 5:39. Champion Take Charge Brandi rides a three-race win streak into the Martha Washington. Jon Court picks up the ride for Willis Horton and Wayne Lukas.
What happened: Just as we were lauding Court for his confidence, Sarah Sis rallied up the rail. Whew, it was close but the champ won again.
– We wrote: Fair Grounds. Race 8. 5:54. Remember debut winner Prayed For at Saratoga? We bet her when she was part of Jimmy Jerkens’ transcendent Saratoga stint. Now, she’s part of Alice Cohn’s small string at Fair Grounds. She hasn’t been on the turf since finishing fourth in the Riskaverse at Saratoga.
What happened: Prayed For ran well, rallying to finish third. She’ll get better.
– We wrote: Santa Anita Park. Race 6. 6:00. Short but competitive field eyes Palos Verdes. Secret Circle tries to snap a five-race losing streak, he hasn’t won since taking the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
What happened: The losing streak continues – not the effort streak – as Secret Circle failed to hold off Conquest Two Step.
– We wrote: Fair Grounds. Race 9. 6:24. Carolina Jasmine is stakes placed and still a maiden for Andrew McKeever and James Miller. She won’t be a maiden after this.
What happened: And that makes four. Carolina Jasmine finished second for the fourth straight time.
– We wrote: Santa Anita. Race 7. 6:30. Five-time winner Kaigun could go over the $1 million mark for Mark Casse in the Arcadia. Za Approval bolsters Casse’s assault. Graham Motion counters with Pennsylvania-bred Edge Of Reality.
What happened: Evergreen Gary Stevens guided Avanzare to a mild upset over Za Approval and Home Run Kitten. Tom Proctor had a stakes double.
– We wrote: Santa Anita. Race 8. 7:00. On the road to the Kentucky Oaks. Three-year-old fillies clash in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes.
What happened: Callback out-gunned a Jerry Hollendorfer foursome to win by a half-length for Bob Baffert and Peachtree. The daughter of Street Sense improved her career mark to 2-for-4.
– We wrote: Santa Anita. Race 9. 7:30. Solomon Northup makes his stateside debut for owner/trainer Joe Herrick. A son of Scat Daddy, he posted two seconds on the synthetic at Dundalk.
What happened: He’s still a maiden, finishing seventh of 12.
– We wrote: Turfway Park. Race 4. 7:42. You never know where they come from…promising 3-year-old maidens, one already stakes placed, clash in a mile maiden.
What happened: Pepper Roani derailed Woodbine shipper Hollywood Critic.
– We wrote: Turfway. Race 6. 8:40. Win a few races at Royal Ascot … The Great War makes his 3-year-old debut for new trainer Wesley Ward. A three-time winner in Ireland for Aidan O’Brien, son of War Front looks long gone in the 96Rock.
What happened: Long gone? Like the dot.com bubble.
Sam Houston Race Park. Race 9. 10:46. Texas-bred Expect Royalty eyes her fifth consecutive win for Leroy Pollock. The daughter of Valid Expectations faces old friends in the Tomball.
What happened: Expect Royalty wound up in a dead heat for third. I Am Jane Dough, a daughter of the prolific stallion My Golden Song, won for Danny Pish.