Friday, March 11, 2011

Tampa Bay and Timely Writer

By threatening to bring Uncle Mo to the Tampa Bay Derby while cajoling Gulfstream to write an overnight to fit his star, Todd "What me Worry" Pletcher has effectively carved out two soft spots for his horses Brethren and Uncle Mo through clever bait and switch. All of this comes as he releases his statement about the Life at Ten debacle, when he and his jockey allowed an unfit horse to run in a Breeder's Cup race. Let's start with Uncle Mo.

The strategy for the 2YO champ is to hold, not improve, form. He will not stretch out, but regress in his first start against 5 other no-name horses, most supplemented, looking for black type, but not necessarily a win. Maybe this strategy will pay off. But why not use the typical prep races to get to the Derby? Horses are scared of him; he would get a soft spot no matter where he debuted. Team Pletch says it's the surface of Gulfstream being so similar to his training facility, but what sort of advantage is that if you're not going for the win just to build form? We'll have to wait and see how this goes.

Brethren gets the benefit of Mophobia in Tampa. This was a great race last year with Rule, Schoolyard Dreams and Odysseus duking it out. This year's iteration doesn't hold the same competitive field. If you bet exactas like me, the only viable strategy is keying the Winstar colt and going for the tri. Bill Mott, who still seems awkward on the trail has a young colt on the rail and Chad Brown also has a contender. I'll be looking at those as well as Beamer. Meanwhile in the shadow of Florida, debuts Jaycito at Santa Anita. He's long been heralded by the blue-eyed devil Bob Baffert. It'll be interesting to see what he can do over that ludicrously fast strip. Has to prove he's not a mental case. I'm not convinced, but I wanna see some contenders so let's go Jaycito!  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Gotham and Thawing Hawthorne

The Gotham has come up sort of weak this year. Todd Pletcher debuts Stay Thirsty, a Bernardini colt that hasn't shown he can stay, but seems to have the foundation and certainly the genes to begin a very powerful 3YO campaign. I think he might be a little short in here and I like Graham Motion's colt Toby's Corner, though he may be a little green. When he finally switched leads in the Whirlaway, he rebroke and pulled away. I'm hoping he can do that again. Meanwhile Uncle Mo is training forwardly for his first start next week in the underwhelming Timely Writer, written as a gift for the champion 2YO. Dialed In will run in an allowance at GP this Sunday, going 9 furlongs. And Soldat gets a rest after a nice run in the Fountain of Youth. Those are the three top contenders right now, but Oaklawn and Santa Anita may sprout some notables. I'm keeping a close watch on Jaycito and Elite Alex.

Hawthorne had to cancel racing next Tuesday due to lack of entrants. I really don't know what this means for the family-owned oval. Will they be able to keep the lights on with a smaller meet? It seems like both supply and demand are now waning in Stickney. It was probably unavoidable. I went a couple weeks ago to see a slate of claimers and it was the limpest racing I'd seen in a while, not only were they plodding, but there was no fighting for the wire. I don't know who still has a string on the south side, but clearly Janks has pulled out. Chris Block rarely has anything. Catalano must have a few stalls. Ness seems to have moved to Tampa. The game is changing in Stick, thanks to the diminishing carrot -- the 10k purse.