The Monday Special – Feb. 5

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A little slow on the draw here the morning (all right, afternoon) after the Super Bowl with the second installment of our weekly recap of all things from the last few days. Blame the excitement of the game and not any overindulgence for a later than planned edition of The Monday Special.

Star of the Weekend
Nick Foles earned the Super Bowl MVP – we were a little partial to Zach Ertz at the Saratoga outpost of ST Publishing, oh well – and Audible wins Star of the Weekend honors on the racetrack.

Last seen winning an allowance at Aqueduct Dec. 6, Audible put his name in the mix for the spring classics with a 5 1/2-length victory over Free Drop Billy in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Death, taxes and a Todd Pletcher-trained late-bloomer getting in the running for the Kentucky Derby with a stylish performance in South Florida. It seems to happen every year; surely you remember Always Dreaming?

Audible showed up in Saratoga in July after being his final prepping at WinStar Farm, which co-owns the Into Mischief colt with China Horse Club and SF Racing, and trained in upstate New York through late September. Third in his debut Sept. 27 at Belmont, he broke his maiden Nov. 11 at Aqueduct and added the allowance a few weeks later.

Audible rated behind the early speed in the Holy Bull before taking the lead with three furlongs to run. Javier Castellano gave him his cue in the lane and they drew off to the daylight score. The victory was worth 10 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Derby field.

Two other sophomores earned 10 points toward a Derby berth with victories in classic preps – Avery Island in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct and Lombo in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita.

Look for all three in key preps come March.


Elsewhere at Gulfstream
Gulfstream Race 6: French-bred fillies Thewayiam and Salsa Bella sprinted clear of their American-bred competition in the final furlong of the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant. They might not have been over physically imposing while circling the fountain in the Gulfstream paddock, but they certainly came with a powerful punch in the stretch. Last month’s Ginger Brew Stakes winner Thewayiam got first run, and held off her rival for her third win in four starts since arriving in the U.S.

Gulfstream Race 8: Machismo cruised to an impressive maiden breaking score by 11 1/2 lengths for Ron Paolucci’s Loooch Racing Stables. Originally a $500,000 yearling purchase by WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, Paolucci bought the More Than Ready colt at last year’s Keeneland November sale for $140,000. 

Thought to be a good thing, he was sent off as the 4-5 favorite in his career debut Opening Weekend of Saratoga, but a fierce duel with eventual Hopeful winner Sporting Chance took its toll and he finished seventh. Don’t be surprised when you see him entered in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in four weeks.


By The Numbers/Sales Fun Facts
$300,000: Final bid on Hip 360, the Speightstown colt out of Gold d’Oro in the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. That final bid fell short of his reserve, and that Speighstown colt is named Strike Power, impressive winner of the Grade 3 Swale.

$60,000: Amount Gold d’Oro sold for at the 2017 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, before Strike Power had started in a race. 

$15,000: Amount the Lemon Drop Kid colt out of Gold d’Oro sold for at the 2017 Keeneland September sale.

$55,000: Final bid on Hip 2183, Blue Devil Bel, at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. She did not meet her reserve and foaled out an Into Mischief colt three months later. That colt is Audible, winner of the Grade 2 Holy Bull.

$57,000: Final bid on Blue Devil Bel when in foal to Constitution at the 2017 Keeneland November sale. She was again an RNA. Audible had only started once at this point, finishing third in a maiden special weight.

19 1/2: lengths behind the leader Audible was a half-mile into his 6 1/2-furlong debut. He made a belated rally in the last 5/16 to finish third, beaten only 4 1/4.


The Worst of The Saturday Special
We wrote: Laurel Park. Race 6. 3:00. Pretty even group for 1 1/16-mile allowance for fillies and mares. We’ll reach a bit with Shackle Me Good, she’s 3-for-5 at the track and going first off claim for Ferris Allen.

Shackle Me Good wasn’t that much of a reach, going off as slight third choice at less than 3-1. She took the lead shortly after the start, set the pace and folded up the tent around the turn to finish last of six and 33 ½ lengths behind the winner Prevailing Party.


The Best of The Saturday Special
We wrote: Sunland Park. Race 6. 5:37. Judge Lanier Racing of Conquest Mo Money fame plunked down the $600 early nomination fee to make Sphene eligible for the Triple Crown. Son of Bodemeister makes debut from post 10 in 6 1/2-furlong maiden for trainer Miguel Hernandez.

Sphene went to the post significantly shorter than his 10-1 price in the morning line, going off at 4-1. He then gave his connections reason to think the investment was worth it with a 3 1/4-length victory in his debut.


Tweet of the Week
Joe Nevills (@DRFNevills):

Congratulations to Wesley Ward for winning the inaugural #BC18 Juvenile Turf Sprint.

(Editor’s note: In case you missed it, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint was added to the two-day championship program Monday.)