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Weekend Stake Tip: Saturday’s Goods

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Robert B. Lewis results: Unsurprising, but Flashback kind of had it easy. Big deal, he was spurred in the stretch by Leparoux and beat three horses. He didn’t open up quite as impressively as he could have, BUT, he looked very happy the entire race which says a lot.

Withers results: A great turn-of-foot and an exciting win by Revolutionary, but I will go into detail in a post later this week why this gorgeous hunk of colt will not be my #1 on my updated Derby Top 10 just for that. I do have a new horse for the #1 spot though.

Hutcheson results: Not feeling like we have any amazing sprinter types like we did last year with Trinniberg and Currency Swap. I was glad to see a Tapit win it though!

Sam F. Davis: Interesting race, but I’m not that excited about Falling Sky or Dynamic Sky, who had no excuse to really lose in a field that wasn’t that good. I wouldn’t put away Speak Logistics yet though. Watch race replay below

Tiffany Lass results: AS IF ANYONE COULD ADVISE ME AGAINST ROOTING FOR BELIEVE YOU CAN! I really hope we have some good distaff competition again this year to challenge her Royal Deltaness.

Strub results: After watching him fly late last time out, it was great to see Guilt Trip get a G2 win over Fed Biz and Tritap. We see a lot of speed horses nowadays, so it’s refreshing to get a new dynamite closer and another of my Saratoga ponies get a turn in the limelight.

Dynamic Sky engaged Falling Sky in the stretch and had plenty of time to get clear of him but didn’t. Greenness? Maybe. Either way I don’t think I hear about too many legitimately good offspring of Sky Mesa, as much as I hate to admit I judge them just by their sire. Speak Logistics looks like he’s come a long way since racing at 2 at Calder and got stuck in there and couldn’t move. His connections were very upbeat talking about him before the race, and unlike in his two prior wins he was rated here. His pedigree is also interesting with High Cotton as his sire, who also sired Currency Swap, and is out of a Summer Squall x Miswaki cross. Or ya know, maybe I’m talking out of my butt considering Speak Logistics…

February is kind of a slow month for Triple Crown contenders, and trainers who have loads of great hopefuls are frequent winners. I glazed over the 369 early Triple Crown nominations and didn’t see much from the Zayat family, who I believe had 4 or 5 horses entered last year, and usually has a horse I really, really like for this big races.

As I mentioned in the Racing Beat yesterday, because it’s a quiet week for the Triple Crown preps I would like to try a couple different experiments. One will involve me just picking horses based on how they look in the paddock, which is often what I won’t do and will instead research the f—k out of them and pick at their past races. It’s not that I’m bad at it or think it’s irrelevant, but I am fearful I will fall victim to my tendency to pick the prettiest pony sometimes!

My other experiment is more an exercise of creativity. A lot of times a horse that I didn’t expect to make a case at all wins a race (like I’ll Have Another for sure!) and I wonder where I went wrong in immediately tossing them out. At what point do I throw them out? The experiment here is to random select three top finishers in a given race and argue how they might win. Except for maybe a few out there (GENNADI DOROCHENKO!), trainers will never put a horse in a race if they think they’re totally outclassed and will be humiliated. It should be fun.

Weekend Stake Tip: Game Face On Dude!

Clear weather and fast tracks set this weekend’s racing schedule off on a high note, but that didn’t stop certain heartbreaking results from happening. I ventured into my first foray at a pick 4 (I had only done one pick 3 before, which I’d won), and while I succeeded in lasting all four races, the payout was lower than my investment due to all but one of the lower-odds entries winning— lucky for me I had gambled free credit money, so I didn’t technically lose anything. BUT STILL!

It has become extraordinarily evident to me over time that Mike Smith has Chantal Sutherland figured out. Blame part of his genius on riding closers, part of it on her using all the tricks he’s taught her. Nevertheless, there was little fear figuring out the winner of Sunday’s San Antonio Stakes (II) at Santa Anita, as Breeders’ Cup Classic (I) runner-up Game On Dude would make his 2012 debut with Chantal against Mike Smith on recent San Pasqual (II) winner Uh Oh Bango. “He didn’t really break,” Sutherland would comment later to HRTV, as the gelding had to make an uncharacteristic hike from the back early as opposed to his usual immediate pace-setting. Once clear of the rear, “the Dude” began coasting easily along the backstretch, appearing to beg Chantal to give him his head… and she did, as the backstretch ran out, letting the Dude grab a two-length advantage which he kept widening and widening. Mike Smith got up for the show, but there was absolutely no beating Game On Dude that day. I think we’ve seen our first Horse of the Year contender already by the way he ran that 1 1/8 mile race so easily! Watch partial replay/interviews below (why aren’t tracks updating their videos lately?!)

The three-year-old Derby prep season continued with a few good, eye-opening races in the Withers (III) (won easily by Alpha… perhaps a little too easily suggesting he’s not being tested appropriately), the Sam F. Davis (III) (won by the talented maiden Battle Hardened, watch out for this guy!), and then the Round 2 race of the Derby Handicap Contest, the messy Robert B. Lewis (II) over at Santa Anita. I think it was too mucked-up to really count, honestly, as there was too much of a jumble at the end while allowing longshot winner I’ll Have Another to coast to an easy win. The excellent runners in the race— Liasion, Sky Kingdom, and Rousing Sermon— never got their running room arranged with Liasion losing rider Rafael Bejarano mid-stretch. Joel Rosario figured out Empire Way well enough to put him up for second, which I was very pleased to see, but still… I’m throwing this race out, as I’m sure others are doing as well. Watch replay

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


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