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Norumbega

Norumbega

Derby Profile #11: General a Rod

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(Photo by Adam Coglianese/Leslie Martin)

Highlights:

  • G1-placed at 9 furlongs (Florida Derby)
  • G2-placed at 1 1/16 miles (Fountain of Youth Stakes)
  • Never off the board in 5 starts


Basics:

  • Trainer: Mike Maker (Hansen, Furthest Land, Stately Victor)
  • Jockey: Joel Rosario
  • Owned by: J. Armando Rodriguez
  • Record: 5:2-2-1
  • Earnings: $282,200
  • Best speed figures: 101 Beyer (Fountain of Youth Stakes), 102 BRIS Figure (Fountain of Youth Stakes), 105 Equibase

Background: The colt with the yellow blinker hood that many dismissed early in the year as too quick-footed to make it this far, General a Rod proved them wrong as the stubborn arch rival of Wildcat Red in the deep, competitive Florida prep races. Named for his owner, Armando Rodriguez, the General and is part of trainer Mike Maker’s two-horse Derby ticket (along with Vicar’s In Trouble).

Prep Schedule: A winner at Keeneland in his October debut, General rallied from the rear of the tightly-grouped pack in a 7-furlong maiden race to prevail by nearly 3 lengths. Switching from poly to dirt at Churchill 5 weeks later, he sat close to the pace to finish 2nd to a late-rallying Conquest Titan. who would next finish runner-up to Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull (II). In his sophomore debut, General kept to a mile in the Gulfstream Park Derby on January 1, dueling most of the way with Wildcat Red to overcome that rival by a head. Stretching out to 1 1/16 miles and trying a graded stake, General ran 2nd to Wildcat Red in another prolonged duel in the Fountain of Youth (II), this time never getting a true edge and missing by a head. Stalking fiercely yet again in the 9-furlong Florida Derby (I), General weakened in the stretch against Wildcat Red as winner Constitution passed them both by, losing the race by 1 1/2 lengths. 

Pedigree: General a Rod displays impressive speed given his distance-oriented pedigree, which unlike many others in the field, has been matched for specific lines. Sire Roman Ruler— a son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus and out of graded stakes producer Silvery Swan, a daughter of Silver Deputy— adds Mr. Prospector to General’s dam’s lines, both sporting rear crosses to Raise a Native, Danzig, and Nashua. All four horses are known to pass on speed that carries over a distance. Roman Ruler, a top middle market sire, has Belmont winner Ruler On Ice to his progeny credit along with graded stakes winners Homeboykris, Artemis Agrotera, Ancient Rome, and Rule. General’s dam is the Dynaformer daughter Dynamite Eyes, who is out of the Mother Goose (II)-placed Meadowlake daughter Buckeye Search. Collaboratively, General a Rod is the most inbred in the field, but done so intelligently to give him speed that can go 9 furlongs or more.

Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A++, Variant: 14.22

Dosage Index: 2.00

Running Style: Stalking

Pros: General a Rod shows unique speed coupled by a very strong stamina family. he has a great-looking physique for pushing into longer distances. His “off” Florida Derby— which really wasn’t all that bad— is excusable due to jockey Rosario’s loss of one of his irons. He also ran well at Churchill Downs, which is always a plus.

Cons: While he has shown ability to ship around and be competitive, I think I’ll be forever suspect of the fast stakes-day main track at Gulfstream this spring meet. It’s entirely possible it could handicap a few horses’ fitness coming into the dirt at Churchill.

Final Word: Speed, stamina, a good race record, and determination all give General a Rod legitimacy as a Kentucky Derby contender as we get closer to the first Saturday in May, but more questions from his visual performances still remain in regards to fitness as he appeared to weaken in the 9-furlong Florida Derby. He could feasibly stay on in the stretch, but I see him getting passed again late.

Julia Tutweiler (Pulpit x Caroline’s Gold, by Touch Gold) before and after her debut race at Saratoga Race Course. Joel Rosario up for Bill Mott.

Forty Tales and Joel Rosario had a bit of a dirty trip in the Cigar Mile (I)

Forty Tales and Joel Rosario had a bit of a dirty trip in the Cigar Mile (I)

Kentucky Derby winner Orb

Kentucky Derby winner Orb

Favored Formulaforsuccess, a Broken Vow stallion, was claimed by Michael Dubb and Rudy Rodriguez after finishing 5th in a race with Joel Rosario (Photo by Dawna Wood/Galloping Hat Rack)

Favored Formulaforsuccess, a Broken Vow stallion, was claimed by Michael Dubb and Rudy Rodriguez after finishing 5th in a race with Joel Rosario (Photo by Dawna Wood/Galloping Hat Rack)

Racing Beat: July 21

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I finally updated the blog’s banner and my about page. It sucked to cross out Nehro's name as one of my favorite still-living horses…

Record-setting Queen’s Plate (CAN-I) winner Strait of Dover has passed due to a twisted colon. Also, a recent and popular claimer of Doug O’Neill’s, Salt Tequila Lime, has died. #rip

The fact that Joel Rosario made more than a third of what I currently make in a year just on Del Mar’s opening day makes me want to cry and eat his weight in cake.

Convocation, a well-pedigreed Darley gelding who ran 2nd to Haynesfield in the 2010 Suburban Handicap among other notable starts, has been reportedly retired… after scratching out of a $4,000 claimer at Suffolk Downs earlier this week. Tis a slippery slope in the world of horse racing… he managed to beat Ice Box and Ron the Greek earlier in his career under the direction of James Jerkens. I hope he has found a good rest home.

My new thing to watch now that my cable TV selections got slashed are the pawn shop shows, and yesterday on Pawn Stars someone brought in one of Secretariat's old shoes which included a letter from Penny Chenery. Big Hoss admitted he knew little about racing, offered $2k for it. OBVIOUSLY YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND!

A match made in gray heaven? Zo Impressive and Tapit. Yep, it happened. Now all we need is Henrythenavigator and Zenyatta to make it in brown horse heaven.

I was rooting for My Happy Face to win the Coaching Club, but Princess of Sylmar definitely earned it.

Power Broker's my current pick to win the Travers.

I’m not much of a Lasix capper, so it felt nice when Royal Delta romped without it after suffering an apparent bad reaction to the stuff in her last, inexcusably disappointing start.

Fellow The Walking Dead fans will be delighted to learn that there is a two-year-old filly by First Samurai named Michonne.

My Rise Jim choice to win, Dreamed a Dream, finished third at 13-1. The winner was a crazy 64-1 longshot. I guess this is what happens when you let your Les Mis feels handicap for you.

Horse racing fan problems: I was reading an article about birth control debates, and every time they abbreviated it to “BC” my mind shifted to thinking about the Breeders’ Cup. D’oh.

Tweet o’ the Week: I can see this newfangled terminology catching on quickly with the Tumblr crowd…

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Orb (Photo by HRTV)

Orb (Photo by HRTV)

Oaks Octet #1: Close Hatches

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(First Defence x Rising Tornado, by Storm Cat)

  • Trainer: Bill Mott (Cigar, To Honor and Serve, Drosselmeyer)
  • Jockey: Joel Rosario
  • Owned by: Juddmonte Farms
  • Record: 3:3-0-0
  • Earnings: $201,300
  • Best speed figures: 88 Beyer, 103 Equibase

Background: One of the more recent hype fillies for the Oaks came out of seemingly nowhere after racing lightly (and successfully) leading up to her dynamite G2 win in the Gazelle (II). Improving with each start, is Close Hatches the newest major success story for the Juddmonte empire, who won the Oaks in 2001 with Flute?

Prep Schedule: 3-for-3 in her career, Close Hatches won for fun in her debut race at 7 furlongs at Aqueduct, winning by 7 lengths while closing into a rapid pace. 2 months later, she sealed the deal in an allowance race while stretching out to 1 1/16 miles, urged by Rosario to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Kimberly Jean (an outrun 4th later on in the Gulfstream Oaks won by Dreaming of Julia in smashing fashion). In her most recent start, she stretched out successfully to the Oaks distance of 9 furlongs to win the Gazelle (II) in a wire-to-wire effort over the previously undefeated Princess of Sylmar.

Pedigree: New sire First Defence is a Juddmonte resident stallion finding some success with his first foal crop (grass runner Dundonnell included) after a G1-winning career as a sprinter. He is the product of your basic American strategy for success being by hot speed sire Unbridled’s Song and out of Honest Lady, a daughter of Seattle Slew who is also a half to Belmont/Wood Memorial winner Empire Maker. Close Hatches’ dam is Rising Tornado, a Storm Cat daughter linebred to the familiar Secretariat-Sir Gaylord dynasty. Close Hatches features 2 traces each to Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector in the first 5 generations.

Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A++ Variant 17.74

Running Style: Adaptable

Pros: A horse I really liked naturally because of my past success with Mott-Juddmonte ties, Close Hatches looks to be keen with her third start off a two-month layoff and is already strong at the Oaks distance. She can win closing as well as setting the pace, so she can likely adapt to whatever Beholder, Dreaming of Julia, and others throw at her.

Cons: Other fillies in the field have had better winning speed figures than her, so she will really have to be better than ever to win. She will also be tested in a very talented Oaks field, as she ran to the nines last out largely unopposed on the front end.

Final Word: Bill Mott? YES! Juddmonte silks? YES MORE! A talented filly named in the spirit of her mother’s name (When a tornado comes, you CLOSE/BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES!)? AWW YEAH! It’s no wonder why I was drawn to Close Hatches, especially after experiencing a bit of bettors’ glee when I got a couple real nice prices last year on Mott-Juddmonte couplings. Close Hatches, although a pick among the wiseguys, should get a little better of a price than three or four others right when she should be ready to peak.

I'm loving your Derby Dozen updates, but both Orb and Verrazano's jockeys are listed as finishing fourth in last year's Derby. Wasn't Rosario third? Keep up the good work and congrats on "Exterminator's" second birthday.

Asked by mybodyisabasillica

Thanks much for the kind words, I’m glad you’re enjoying them so far and I hope you find them at least somewhat useful!

And thanks for noting the typo I knew I had but forgot to fix! Rosario was 5th with Creative Cause actually (I thought he was 3rd or 4th too, but then remembered Dullahan and Went the Day Well).

Going to the Thoroughbred races, keeping "track" of the memories. Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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